DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) - Students at the University of Dayton linked their passion for art with their desire to make a difference Monday night.
Nearly 1100 children in Ohio are currently presumed to be trafficked. An additional 3,000 are believed to be at high risk for human sex trafficking.
Erin Peery and her roommates, who live in Artstreet on UD's campus, decided to take action after learning these staggering statistics.
"It wasn't something I could just sit on the couch and not take action with after learning of the issue," said Peery.
A group of more than 50 volunteers, all students, created artwork to fill GraceHaven, an organization being built near Columbus, Ohio that helps women who have been victims of sex trafficking. Once opened, the facility will house and treat 10 women.
"I painted an ocean scene," said Alexander Gaskins, who is an engineer major at the University. "The ocean is pretty calming to me, but at the same time it can be rough when its stormy. I think its symbolic to anyone entering this safe haven. "
"We decided to do three separate canvases," said Emily May, who is a junior at UD. "One says "Live," one says "Laugh," and one says "Love" We want these girls to remember to live from this moment forward, to laugh and enjoy life and just remember they are loved."
Students also wrote letters to the victims. They hope their words of encouragement and artwork will bring these women peace and hope.
"Each girl is going to get their own box along with art pieces that will go in their room," said Peery. "The box is full of encouraging and inspirational quotes saying, "Look you are valued. You are loved. Here is the truth about you."
An opening date has not been set, but when GraceHaven does open students will deliver their artwork to the facility.
An accident on Interstate 75 is blocking northbound traffic.
An overturned tractor-trailer is blocked Burrville Road north of Fort Recovery-Minster Road in Mercer County Monday morning.
One man is in custody after a police pursuit that began in Franklin and ended in the area of Germantown Pike and Stolz Avenue in Dayton.
A light drizzle of rain falling Monday morning could freeze to area roads ahead of the morning commute.
Dayton police detectives are investigating a homicide Sunday night at the newly opened truck stop on Edwin C. Moses Blvd.