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Pacific Commons and Celebrity Jonathan Bennett To Raise Funds, Awareness about Human Trafficking During 'Help for the Hopeless' Event November 2nd

Pacific Commons today announced that it will host "Help for the Hopeless," a charitable event to raise awareness about human trafficking and funds to benefit the Salvation Army's Human Trafficking Program, Seeds of Hope, which aids the victims of human trafficking in reclaiming their lives.

FREMONT, Calif., Oct. 17, 2019 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Lifestyle Shopping Center Will Donate Event Proceeds to Non-Profit to Help Trafficking Victims Rebuild Their Lives

Pacific Commons (https://pacificcommons.com), a regional lifestyle center offering a unique collection of name-brand shopping, dining and entertainment options, today announced that it will host "Help for the Hopeless," a charitable event to raise awareness about human trafficking and funds to benefit the Salvation Army's Human Trafficking Program, Seeds of Hope, which aids the victims of human trafficking in reclaiming their lives. The Pacific Commons "Help for the Hopeless" event will take place at the shopping center, located in the city of Fremont in California's Alameda County, on Saturday, November 2nd, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Headlining the event, Hollywood celebrity Jonathan Bennett will speak out against human trafficking and will be on hand for a celebrity meet-and-greet following his remarks. Additional entertainment during the event will feature local artists Vicki Richtman and Joel Yau painting original works of art live and on site as well as a special performance by the acclaimed DrD Band playing hits from the '70s and '80s. Tickets cost $10 each and can be purchased online at https://helpforthehopeless.bpt.me/.

Facts About Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is a worldwide problem that affects as many as 40.3 million people globally and encompasses both forced labor and sexual exploitation.1 And while the victims of human trafficking are both male and female, according to a report from the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), girls and women represent nearly three-fourths of all detected trafficking victims worldwide; females also comprise a shocking 94% of the world's sexual exploitation trafficking victims and 35% of forced labor victims.2 In fact, according to UNODC, more than half of all human trafficking victims worldwide are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation, and a surprising percentage of that sexual trafficking is taking place in what one group calls "the underground sex economy" right here in the United States.3

Bringing the numbers a little closer to home, in the past seven years, more than 4,700 young people in Alameda County alone were identified as being either at risk for or already involved in sexual exploitation.4 And while Alameda County has become a hub for human trafficking5, it's not alone: the FBI has classified California among the worst states in the nation for sex trafficking as well as child labor, forced labor and domestic servitude.6

Event Purpose and Details
To help bring this murky problem out of the shadows, Pacific Commons will host a benefit to aid the Salvation Army's Human Trafficking Program, Seeds of Hope. Services provided by the program include shelter, transportation, food, clothing and other basic necessities as well as working with human trafficking victims to establish life and parenting skills and provide long-term specialized counseling, medical and dental treatment, educational assistance, childcare and job training.

"Fremont is one of the most historic cities in California, and at Pacific Commons, we treasure all the good that this city has to offer," says Heath McCue, CMS, Regional Marketing Director for Vestar, the privately held retail real estate organization that manages Pacific Commons. "Since the shopping center is such an important part of this community, we also feel it is our responsibility to shine a light on a problem as dark and pervasive as human trafficking, particularly when it is taking place in our own backyard, and to raise funds to help those victimized by this insidious crime."

Jonathan Bennett Appearance
Known for his many roles in TV and film, Jonathan Bennett most recently appeared on The CW's "Supergirl" as well as the hit CBS show "Celebrity Big Brother." His role in Hallmark's "Christmas Made to Order" opposite Alexa PenaVega left women everywhere swooning, as did his earlier star-making role as Aaron Samuels in the hit film "Mean Girls." Two newer feature films showcasing Bennett's work include "Sharknado" and "The Haunting of Sharon Tate" with co-star Hilary Duff. Off-screen, Bennett has dedicated his time and talents to a number of charitable causes, including a children's hospital fundraiser and a cancer fundraising event in honor of his late father. Now, Bennett plans to use his appearance at the Pacific Commons "Help for the Hopeless" event to highlight the tragedy of human trafficking.

In addition to hearing Bennett speak at the event, attendees are invited to an exclusive meet-and-greet with the star where he will pose for pictures and talk with fans from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the plaza in the Block (across from Dick's Sporting Goods). For a downloadable photo of Bennett, visit: http://ow.ly/41R830pHtZP.

The Salvation Army: Sowing the Seeds of Hope
The Pacific Commons "Help for the Hopeless" event will draw attention to the important work being done by the Salvation Army as well as local law enforcement, government agencies and the numerous other community service organizations hard at work to identify, rescue and restore victims of all forms of human trafficking.

"Human trafficking in all of its many forms is an insidious problem that people don't like to talk about, but it's one that needs to be brought into the light," says Leslee Rogers, Donor Director, Salvation Army. "No one wants to believe such a terrible injustice could take place right in their own city or state, but the sad fact is, it often does. At the Salvation Army, it is our goal to help the victims of human trafficking crimes rebuild their lives and find both joy and purpose in their futures. That's why events like the Pacific Commons Help for the Hopeless program are so very important. Pacific Commons has recognized the trauma that the victims of human trafficking schemes are forced to endure, and it is helping to highlight the work the Salvation Army is doing to end this torture for the victims lucky enough to escape it."

During the "Help for the Hopeless" event, attendees will enjoy refreshments, beautiful artwork and entertainment. In addition, shoppers who spend $100 or more at participating retailers during the event will get a complimentary butterfly keychain to commemorate the occasion. Artwork created during the event will include original paintings by up-and-coming local artists, each based on a "survival" theme. In addition to proceeds from ticket sales, each piece of art will be auctioned during the event with all proceeds from the art sales also benefiting the Salvation Army.

1 American Bar Association (2019) "Midyear 2019: Experts Explore Measures to End Trafficking at Casinos As Abuse Rises Worldwide"
2 CNN (2019) "UN Human Trafficking Report: Record Number of Girls Reported as Victims"
3 Bustle (2018) "13 Sex Trafficking Statistics That Put the Worldwide Problem into Perspective"
4 KRON4.com: Over 4,700 Children Linked to Human Trafficking in Alameda County
5 Patch.com: Freedom Fighters Battle Bay Area Human Trafficking
6 NBC Bay Area: Sex Trafficking, Abductions, Sad Reality in Bay Area

About Pacific Commons
Pacific Commons is a regional lifestyle center offering a unique collection of name-brand shopping, dining and entertainment options all in one place. Conveniently located off the I-880 at Auto Mall Parkway, Pacific Commons features over 85 stores and eateries including Nordstrom Rack, Old Navy, Kohl's, Sephora, Century Theatres, P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Claim Jumper and Gen Korean B.B.Q. House. For more information, visit the Pacific Commons website, and follow the center on Facebook and Instagram.

Deborah Blackford / blkfrd@earthlink.net / 714-280-8765
Karen Franse / karenfranse@gmail.com / 386-649-1887
Carmen Herlihy / cherlihypr@gmail.com / 646-770-2623