It's our city, our home, and yet there is so much happening right in front of us that we never notice.
"Houston is the number one city for human trafficking in the United States," said Jackelyn Viera Iloff of Force4Compassion, a 501(c)3 organization created to spread awareness about the domestic and international problem of human trafficking.
The organization's statistics reveal 12 is the average age of girls forced into prostitution and 55 percent of girls living on the streets have engaged in prostitution.
"It's your neighbor, your cousin, your friend," Iloff said. "If they have a daughter or a son that is (a) runaway, those children are at risk for human trafficking."
Force4Compassion recently teamed up with the Harris County Sheriff's Office to distribute "Bags of Hope". The goal was to offer hope to some of those victims of sex trafficking.
"It has a change of clothes and toiletries that allows them to feel safe," Iloff said.
Bags of Hope are designed to meet the immediate needs of a rescued girl. They contain sweatpants or long shorts, t-shirts, a sports bra, modest underwear, socks, make-up remover, a comb and hair ties.
Deputies carry them around in their patrol cars in case they encounter someone in need.
"It's almost like a teddy bear, if you will, for children we encounter during traumatic circumstances," Sheriff Adrian Garcia said. "This is a (metaphorical) teddy bear if you will. (It's) a bag of hope for those victims of human trafficking. It's an incredibly undignified circumstance that some of these victims go through. Let's let them know that number one: we see them as a victim and number two: we want them to have hope."
Forces4Compassion will also hold a "Hope & Freedom Walk-A-Thon" on January 26, 2013. You can walk or volunteer at the event by registering online on their website.