Spring time in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, my hometown, is exploding with life. With boats preparing for summer, runners training for marathons, and hikers dusting off their boots, there is no shortage of activities to participate in.
Three years ago, I challenged myself to hike a local mountain in New Hampshire every week as a part of my spring workout. I also found myself having conversations with other twenty-somethings in the area who were looking for a way to raise awareness about human trafficking. Around that same time, I heard about Tread on Trafficking and started to ask hikers if they would be interested in the idea of a community hike to support Love146. Besides raising awareness about an important cause, it would mean I didn’t have to hike alone (twisting your ankle at the top and hobbling down would have been way more fun if someone could have carried me).
I decided to host the event at a mountain that was very popular among hikers and began to investigate the town’s requirements for having a booth in the parking lot at the base of the mountain. I was surprised when they said I was good to go with no paperwork needed, and they even gave me some ideas for local newspapers to contact to publish the event!
I’ve been hosting the Tread on Trafficking hiking event annually since then. Each year, on the day of the event, I arrive at the parking lot around sunrise and set up a table with information about Love146–general brochures, a form for people to receive a tax deductible receipt, a jar for change and loose cash, and a bowl of doggie treats. People come up thinking we have maps for the different trails, but instead we hand them some information about human trafficking and a bottle of water. By the time they come back down the mountain, they’re emptying their pocket change and vacation cash to help out Love146!
I’ve noticed that people don’t necessarily prefer to sign up for their own fundraising page, but they are happy to donate to mine. Having a team page for those who don’t want to maintain a fundraising page themselves allows them to feel like they can still be a part of what is going on, and they even gain a little bit of friendly competition among other supporters. Each year we raise $800 at the hiking event alone. Even hikers who don’t come specifically for the Tread on Trafficking event are inclined to give.
This year I am hoping we can do even more than in previous years, so we are hosting this hike on Memorial Day Weekend. As successful as previous community hikes have been, I know that we can reach more people on such a bustling holiday weekend in our tourist region. Love146’s President and Co-Founder, Rob Morris, will also be speaking at a local church that same weekend. I believe it will be successful in shedding light on the issue of trafficking, and it will empower people in my community to know that they can make a difference–one tread at a time.