Wait, what is human trafficking? Defined by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, human trafficking is any forced or coerced labor resulting in involuntary servitude, exploitation, debt bondage, or slavery. Two of the most common types of trafficking include the sex trade and domestic labor — including prostitution and pornography, as well as housekeeping and nannying. According to the FL Department of Children and Families, labor trafficking is also prevalent in industries requiring a lot of manual work — such as construction, agriculture, manufacturing, restaurants, and hotels.
How can I help? In FL, trafficking of children or adults is a felony. One of the best ways for community members to help eliminate this crime is to educate themselves on the warning signs. This includes businesses where employees arrive and leave work together by the same means of transportation, working long hours for little or no pay, unexplained injuries or absences, or individuals not in possession of personal documents.
In addition, community members should be aware of the myths and misconceptions about human trafficking. For example, victims will not always accept help + they are not always physically constrained — in many cases, imprisonment is financial or psychological.
If you suspect human trafficking is happening in your community — or if you need help — do not put yourself in harm’s way. You can report suspicious behavior and activity to human trafficking authorities, including:
FeelGood ○Chris Graham, an Auburndale resident, helped to stop a potential burglary at Whiz Cycle Rental(1482 N. Wilson Ave.) in Bartow. On his drive home, Chris saw a man breaking into the store and pulled to the curb to stop him. Another person in the area called the police + the burglar was arrested. The owner of the bike shop, Rachel Riggs, said that the shop sold out of electric rentals for the first time after the community heard about the break-in, and she has immense gratitude toward Chris for helping protect her store. 🏍️ (Bay News 9)
Coronavirus ○The next COVID-19 vaccination sign up opportunity for individuals over the age of 65begins today. The vaccine will be available through the Florida Health Department’s Polk County office (1290 Golfview Ave., Bartow). The department is asking people to refrain from calling the office with questions as to not overwhelm the phone systems but to instead check online for updates. (LkldNow) ○As unemployment due to COVID-19 continues, a decline has been shown in physical and mental health, poverty, family stress + more. For at least 27 weeks, nearly 4 million Americans have beenout of work (including a Lakeland resident), and over a third of those unemployed have been facing long-term unemployment. Many of those individuals have been looking at stimulus packages to help assist them through this time while searching for jobs. (Bloomberg) ○ On Thursday, the Florida Department of Health announced 19,816 new cases of COVID-19 and164 additional deaths in Florida. That brings the total number of cases in FL of COVID-19 to 1,429,722+ the total deaths to 22,481.You can find more updates concerning COVID-19 case numbers on the Florida Department of Health dashboard. See Lakeland + Polk numbers here.
Drink ○The holidays may be over,but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy your favorite holiday cocktails. Here’s a pomegranate martini recipe that has us feeling merry all over again. 🍸Ⓟ
Edu ○ Two local business leaders have been welcomed onto Florida Southern College’s (111 Lake Hollingsworth Dr.) Barney Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise Advisory Board. Courtney Makris, the vice president of business development at Paul Davis Restoration(3306 Waterfield Rd.), and Rob McCollum, market president at Truist in the Greater Polk County Market, will assist the current board members in providing council to the college’s leadership members + facilitate programs, fundraising + more. 🏫
WaterCooler ○There’s no place like home (base). Members of the 2020-21 USA Women’s National Team (WNT) have arrived at the Barnett Athletic Complex (111 Lake Hollingsworth Dr.) in Lakeland for training. This is the first time since March 2020 that the team has reunited, following the cancellation of the Stand Beside Her tour that was called off due to COVID-19. The team will participate in practice sessions, simulated game situations + workouts until Jan. 16., and the training will be closed to the public. 🥎 ○ Jaylon Glover, a junior at Lake Gibson High School (7007 N. Socrum Loop Rd.), is a finalist for the Dairy Farmers’ Mr. Football award. The annual award acknowledges the state’s top football player and was won by another Lakeland student, Demarkcus Bowman, last year. Glover was named the Class 6A player of the year earlier this week, beating out a student from St. Augustine. 🏈 (The Ledger)
ForSeniors ○ Ahoy, matey. Are you standing at the docks of retirement, wondering if you should have packed that extra life vest? Fear not, for the local gurus at Lakeland’s The Estates at Carpenters are seasoned sailors + they’ve put together a list of tips to ensure your Smooth Sailing into Uncompromised Retirement Living. From deciding where you want your journey to take you next to picking out your boat, these captains have you covered.
Finance ○Who’s excited for 2020 to become history? Same. But there are still a few housekeeping items to take care of – like filing our tax returns – before we can officially call it a wrap. Here are some tax-time tips from the local pros at MIDFLORIDA Credit Union. Ⓟ
The City’s annual survey for citizens to weigh in on quality of life is ongoing and residents are encouraged to partake. The online survey went live on Jan. 1 and will remain open until Jan. 31 for Lakeland residents. Participants will be required to share feedback on Swan City and how it may or may not cater to the daily lives of those who work and live in the area. To participate, take the survey here.
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TryThis ○ Cosplay Night | Fri., Jan. 8 | 9 p.m.-1:30 a.m. | Galaxy Bar Lakeland, 5153 US Hwy. 98 N. | Free | Complete with a live DJ, costumes + contests. 🧝 ○ Downtown Lake Wales History Walking Tour| Fri., Jan. 8 | 10-11 a.m. | Lake Wales History Museum, 325 South Scenic Hwy. | Free | Bring water and sunscreen. 🥾 ○ Plant City Virtual Game Night | Fri., Jan. 8 | 7-10 p.m. | Virtual | Free, RSVP | Get a free ticket online to reserve your spot.
Saturday ○ Paintball 2021 Open Tryouts| Sat., Jan. 9 | 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. | Central Florida Paintball, 9365 US Hwy. 98 N. | $100 | First round of cutoffs are at the end of the day. 🔫 ○ Lakeland Veg Fest| Sat., Jan 9 | 11 a.m.-4 p.m. | Palm Center Plaza, 4226 S. Florida Ave. | Free | Featuring local and regional vegan vendors. 🌱 ○ Paddling with Purpose| Sat., Jan. 9 | 9 a.m. | Lake Hollingsworth Boat Ramp, Lake Hollingsworth Dr. | Free | Bring extension grabbers to help pick up trash from the lake. 🛶
Sunday ○ Florida Tropics SC vs. Kansas City Comets| Sun., Jan. 10 | 3:05 p.m. | RP Funding Center, 701 W. Lime St. | $12+ | Game two of the weekend against the Comets. ⚽ ○ Second Sunday Jazz| Sun., Jan. 10 | 1-4 p.m. | The Yard on Mass, 802 N. Massachusetts Ave. | Free | Performances by Davis Collister, Jody Marsh + Jean Bolduc. 🎷
FeaturedEvent ○Second Sunday Artisan Market| Sun., Jan 10 | 12 – 5 p.m. | 1479 Town Center Dr. | Free | Browse a variety of hand-made items sold by Florida based businesses. Ⓟ
Disclaimer: It is up to readers’ discretion to determine whether they feel comfortable participating in any mentioned events based on COVID-19 protocols and precautions. If you have questions, please contact the event’s organizers directly.
Have you heard about the Always Pan from Our Place? Here’s the scoop: • Award-winning and designed to replace 8 pieces of cookware • Ultra slippery, non-toxic non-stick for easy cleanup • Beautiful enough to leave out on your stovetop (and even use as a serving platter) • Has been used by everyone from The New York Times to Oprah • Sold out 11x (order yours to be at the top of their re-stock list)Ⓟ