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Fighting human trafficking in Maine with coffee

A Windham man plans to donate profits from Fight Coffee to fight human trafficking.

MAINE, Maine — Federal authorities say Maine is considered a "source" state for human traffickers from Boston and New York, who prey on women and children struggling with poverty, family turmoil, sexual abuse, or drug addiction.

An estimated 200 to 300 people are trafficked for sex every year, according to a study commissioned for the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

A Windham man hopes to empower consumers to help fight human trafficking in our state by tapping into the country's multi-billion-dollar ground coffee market.  

As a father of two, Anthony McKeown will never forget how he felt when he saw images of child victims of human trafficking. 

"It just gnawed at me, it just gnawed at me," McKeown said.

According to the U.S. State Department, more than half of criminal human trafficking involves children and a very very small percentage of these children are rescued. 

These heartbreaking statistics hit very close to home for McKeown. Growing up in the New York City suburbs, he spent some time homeless as a teenager while battling substance use disorder. He was also molested as a young child.

"That is their life everyday, ten, twenty, thirty times a day," McKeown said. 

Through his faith he found sobriety and served at one time as a Protestant youth minister. His mission was to save children from what is considered the second highest grossing criminal enterprise, by tapping into a market where more than 60 percent of Americans drink a cup of joe.

"They see that cup of coffee and they'll see this logo and say 'they're fighting the fight and I can do it too,'" McKeown said.

Working with a wholesale coffee roaster, Fight Coffee will be available on the Fight Coffee website, which is scheduled to launch in July.  McKeown plans to donate all the proceeds to Maine nonprofit organizations fighting human trafficking. 

"When people purchase the product, they can select the organization of their choice they want to support," McKeown said. He said he is continuing to work to establish connections with nonprofits who raising awareness about human trafficking. 

People can sign up for a newsletter at fightcoffee.org while the site is under construction. 

To reach the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline, call 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP (233733). The free and confidential 24-hour service is accessible from anywhere in Maine and is a direct link to local services in Maine.

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