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VIA Donors Help Combat Child Sex Trafficking

In the beginning of August this year, Voluntaryism in Action launched the “Free Our Children” fundraiser to help victims of child sex trafficking. This is an issue that seems to be widely disregarded by our government and media, or at the very least, not reported on often nor discussed—especially when it involves prominent figures. The shocking reality is that sex trafficking produces over 99 billion a year in illegal profits. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says that the best data suggests that over 100,000 American children are subjected to child sexual exploitation a year.


Thanks to our gracious donors we were able to raise over $10,000 that we granted to organizations that were exclusively working with victims. $7,000 was granted to our partner Operation Underground Railroad, while $3,000 was given to The Demand Project. Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R. Rescue) was founded in December 2013 and was created to safely rescue children and give them the proper aftercare by partnering with safe homes. The Demand Project is located in Oklahoma, where it establishes private residential campuses to assist survivors with recovery. Both organizations have an option for people to become a monthly donor and join the fight against sex trafficking.


It is important for us to be cognizant of the children in our lives and to learn the signs and indications that someone you know or not know is being trafficked. If you see general signs of physical abuse, withdrawing from social situations, disinterest in activities, unwillingness to share information about caregivers, or if the person is frequently in possession of hotel card keys, false IDs, or prepaid cellphones you may be dealing with an instance of trafficking.              

This issue is ever growing and is not as we imagine it. Trafficking can look as innocent as a mother or father taking their child to a friend’s house. As this pandemic of its own expands, thousands of innocent children and adults’ lives are turned upside down. We hope that our efforts, however small on a grand scale, will positively impact survivors.              

Every thirty seconds, someone becomes a victim of this nefarious business and typically they are trafficked by trusted loved ones. In fact, in the time it took you to read this (depending on how fast you read) 4-6  children were trafficked.

If you would like to learn more or assist in combatting sex trafficking, head over to Operation Underground Railroad’s and The Demand Project’s websites. 

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Distilleries Are Producing Hand Sanitizer

Dr. Neil Ramsay is an anesthesiologist who sits on a committee for Vancouver General Hospital (VGH). In March, they were facing a major dilemma: Dr. Ramsey and his colleagues were trying to figure out a solution to address the incredible rising need for hand sanitizer. A distributor on the committee was warning them of the impending scarcity, and concerns grew that the hospital would run out before the end of the month.

Dr. Ramsay began to ponder about a solution for his hospital. He had heard that many small businesses were making products they usually didn’t sell during the COVID-19 pandemic to aid healthcare workers and the public. He decided to reach out to his friend Chris Nelson, who was an investor in Shelter Point Spirits. Nelson and his wife generously donated $25,000 immediately to a local distillery to kickstart the process of making hand sanitizer.

Distilleries are producing hand sanitizer
Chris Nelson, right, the owner of Pacific Sands Beach Resort in Tofino and an investor in the Shelter Point Distillery on Vancouver Island, delivers hand sanitizer to VGH anesthesiologist Dr. Neil Ramsay. Image credit: Arlen Redekop / PNG

Within 48 hours of speaking with Chris Nelson, the Campbell River Distillery delivered the hand sanitizer to VGH. Dr. Ramsay confirms that it distinguishes itself from other hand sanitizers with its strong boozy scent: “When it first arrived, I saw people sniffing their hands and laughing. It smells like whiskey!” Donations of hand sanitizer continued to make their way to the Salvation Army on the Eastside and another hospital, Victoria General.

Many British Columbia based businesses are changing their products and services to help navigate the current pandemic, and Dr. Ramsay doesn’t plan to stop utilizing them. In addition to distilleries producing hand sanitizer, Dr. Ramsay has found a company that is producing nearly 90,000 isolation gowns. This company is Mustang Survival in Burnaby and their typical specialty is marine survival gear. Dr. Ramsay reached out to them about developing a particular water-resistant, breathable hood for doctors to wear while intubating patients.

distilleries are producing hand sanitizer
VGH anesthesiologist Dr. Neil Ramsay wearing the prototype of a hood designed by Burnaby-based Mustang Survival to keep spittle from COVID patients off doctors necks and faces. Image credit Arlen Redekop / PNG

This is an especially important piece of equipment, as intubating patients can cause workers to be covered in spittle. They created a prototype for Dr. Ramsay, and he soon hopes 100s of the hoods will be handed out to his hospital and others that are expressing interest for the extra protection. “…just gives us extra confidence,” Ramsay said gratefully, “I just want to thank people for all the help.”


Around the world, it’s no different. Thousands of distilleries are producing hand sanitizer in the United States for businesses and hospitals. Multiple private services are coming together to produce PPE for healthcare workers—even 3-D printing the PPE. The desire to help our medical personnel is so widespread that nearly every Etsy account owned by someone who can sew features a wide selection of cloth masks. It goes to show that even in such harsh and uncertain times, lots of individuals come together voluntarily to offer their services and knowledge, allowing us to move forward.

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Nashville Tornado Disaster Relief

During the early morning hours of March 3rd, a very violent EF3 tornado moved through Nashville, Tennessee. Most of the Music City’s residents were asleep soundly in their beds as the funnel tore into downtown with its echoing roar.

By the time the storm approached Cookeville, Tennessee, it had produced a terrifying E4 with 175mph winds—the strongest our nation has seen in nearly four years. A resident of Cookeville, Eric Johnson, was crouching with his family in a bathtub when they were pulled and thrown 50 yards into a pile of debris. While they were lucky to survive, 24 lives were claimed in Nashville and Cookeville in total and hundreds of injuries were reported.

Nashville Tornado Disaster Relief
The E4 tornado rips through Nashville, TN.

When the sun rose on March 4th, Nashville looked entirely different than just hours before. Displaced families sifted through piles of memories to grab pieces of their own. Streets in downtown and closely lying neighborhoods were decorated with torn floral curtains, shattered flat screen televisions, family photos, and incredible amounts of debris piled on top of each other in mounds. Within just days, over 2,400 volunteers arrived from all over the US to feed residents and help with clean up.

Nashville Tornado Disaster Relief
Eric and Faith Johnson in the ruins of their home.

The morning after the storm’s harrowing devastation, Voluntaryism in Action launched the “Nashville Tornado Disaster Relief” fund. Within days, our donors were able to raise over $5,000 that was sent to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. There, these funds will be utilized to help with disaster relief and family needs.

With the power of voluntary assistance, these cities are being pieced back together quickly—action greatly needed considering we are in the beginning of what looks like a very active storm season in the southeast. If another crisis like this occurs, the VIA team stands ready to look for ways to send help to those in need. “Nashville Tornado Disaster Relief” is poised to become “Anytown Anystorm Disaster Relief,” thanks to our generous donors.

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Providing Healthcare at a Low Cost: Walmart Opens Care Host Locations

There is a new force in town battling against the growing costs of medical care for Americans: Walmart. That’s right—as the broken system of government-regulated healthcare continues to drive itself into the ground with high costs, Walmart has geared up to offer affordable healthcare services for their customers.

The local Supercenter in Calhoun, GA has constructed 12 waiting rooms in their 6,300-square-foot facility where insured and uninsured patients can have a medical checkup for $30 or a $25 teeth cleaning. There are even counselors available for people seeking mental health services and they charge only $1 a minute for their sessions. In addition to these services, x-rays and hearing checks are also provided. You can book your appointments online or walk in for their services and you can even get labs done on the weekend!

walmart affordable healthcare services
The reception area at the Walmart Health center in Dallas. (PEYTON FULFORD FOR BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK)

Another Care Host location has been established in Dallas, GA as well. These health centers have their own separate entrance from the parking lot, which gives customers a sense of privacy. This is a big leap from their past “Care Clinics” that were cramped within the store and only provided limited services to customers. Now, Walmart has moved in the right direction by completely revamping their original idea for retail clinics. The set prices pretty much eliminate most of the paperwork for both doctors and patients, as patients would rather pay a flat rate than getting their insurance involved.

Dr. Janki Patel at the Calhoun location says it allows optimal patient care: “I don’t feel so rushed and I can spend more time with patients.” This is possible because Walmart’s model lowers the costs of offering services by about 40% by cutting out what Sean Slovenski (Walmart SVP of health and wellness) calls “administrative baloney.” Services cost nearly half of what they would in hospitals and private practices.

walmart affordable healthcare services
The clinics will perform diagnostic lab tests for things like blood glucose and lipids. (PEYTON FULFORD FOR BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK)

Walmart has not given an official statement regarding how many “Care Host” locations will be opened, but there is no question that expansion is eminent considering that Walmart attracts 150 million people a week in all 4,756 locations. Slovenski states that they will be opening their third location in Loganville, GA.

It remains to be seen whether Walmart’s low-cost healthcare services will sustain enough income for full expansion, but the outlook is good. Either way, this is just another example of businesses stepping up where the government continuously lacks, showing the American people once again that there are other avenues for them to rely on.

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Private Practitioners in Hong Kong Volunteer Amidst Coronavirus Outbreak

As the threat of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) worsens, healthcare workers in China have struggled to keep up with the amount of patients who are in need of treatment. This is in part due to the influx of cases and their own workers being impacted by COVID-19. According to recent numbers, the confirmed cases of the virus are reaching beyond 76,000 with the majority of those cases in China.

Over 1,700 healthcare workers have now contracted the virus, adding to the strain on essential manpower. As this crisis continues it’s outspreading impact on the country, a union named the “Association of Private Medical Specialists of Hong Kong” has offered help by sending 135 of their private practitioners to assist at public hospitals.

Mak Kam-fai, chairman of the Hong Kong Disciplined Services Volunteer Corps, has said about 300 people from across departments have offered to help in the coronavirus fight. Photo: Edward Wong

Not only are doctors offering their aid during the outbreak, but 300 officers from disciplined services have also volunteered their own manpower by setting up areas for quarantine and gathering general patient information. At the quarantine sites, surgical masks and other supplies are given to those in need of them. “Some of our officers have qualifications, such as in nursing, and can offer medical help. We can also help check people’s body temperatures in heavy passenger flow areas, such as control points or main MTR stations,” says Mak, a retired officer within the fire services.

This comes at a time when medical practitioners are going on strike amongst the difficult and dangerous conditions surrounding their work place environment. Still, volunteers have persisted and are introduced to safety protocols first thing, including the process of putting on and removing their protective gear.

Current and retired members of Hong Kong’s disciplined services have volunteered to help amid the outbreak. Some may be used to do temperature checks. Photo: Winson Wong

Most of the volunteers feel that it is their duty to offer their knowledge and services during a crisis of this magnitude. Cheng Yuk-leung, a retired corrections officer with a nursing background, took his position firmly: “It’s a sense of responsibility for our society. As an enrolled nurse, I can offer more medical assistance, especially in the quarantine sites.”

The fact that the picket lines in the hospital have been crossed by brave volunteers willing to risk their own health amid the growing coronavirus outbreak—not to mention the tens of millions of donated dollars—is an inspiring example of what people are willing to do for their fellow man in times of crisis, no coercion required.

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