WYOMING, Mich. -- At first sight, the War Chest Boutique on 44th Street in Wyoming is a typical store with jewelry, scarves, candles, ornaments and more.
But this store is different. The boutique has a higher purpose than just sales: All products are crafted by and sold in support of at-risk women, most of whom are victims or possible victims of human trafficking.
The WAR Chest Boutique is the retail arm of the non-profit organization Women At Risk, International, for which WAR is an acronym.
WAR was founded in 2006 by Rebecca McDonald. At a young age, McDonald's best friend was raped and attacked with acid when she was 14 years old. That was the moment when McDonald set her sights on becoming a voice for the voiceless.
WAR Int'l currently operates in 51 countries, addressing 14 different risk issues including: aids, rape, acid attacks, female circumcision and human trafficking (sexual or slavery), but what WAR Int'l is best known for is healing hearts and restoring dignity.
One creative way they're making it happen is through the War Chest Boutique and Tea Trade Cafe.
"The face of trafficking has changed," McDonald said. "15- to 18-year-old girls are recruiting 9-year-old girls to a party they can’t drive themselves home from."
McDonald says she's rescued children as young as two weeks old. It's a sad reality where lives are stolen and sold.
"There are more consequences of selling 100 pounds of any drug than selling a 100 pound child over and over and over," McDonald said.
WAR Int'l U.S Training Center and Global Headquarters is located in Wyoming, Michigan. There woman are being taught how to make jewelry, candles and coffee, something that wouldn't be possible without their 700 volunteers.
"We're trying to come up as many creative ways as we can to give women training where there is grace," McDonald said.
Every sale supports victims that were once disguised as statistics. Women are paid in full for every product made.
The War Chest Boutique has two Michigan locations, at 2790 44th Street SW in Wyoming, and at 25 Squires Street Square in Rockford.
You can also visit their Tea Trade Cafe in Wyoming. All proceeds support at-risk and/or rescued women (and men) from all over the world.
If you would like to volunteer with WAR Int'l just head to their website and fill out a volunteer form.
If you think someone is at-risk, call (877) END-SLAVERY (363-7528).