30,000 teens in Houston for Lutheran youth conference

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Houston is hosting more than 30,000 teens from every single state in the U.S. during the week. They’re part of the tri-annual Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Youth Gathering and represent more than 2,700 congregations.

For a week, they’re out doing service projects in the area such as helping out at the Houston Food Bank and area schools.

“It's an opportunity for learning, for service in your community, worship, fun,” said Linda Post Bushkofsky, executive director of Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The teens' home base is the NRG Center where they have an interactive learning space to learn about social issues including human trafficking.

The organizers have partnered with United Against Human Trafficking, a Houston-area non-profit group, to make hygiene kits. The organization distributes the kits to places like juvenile detention centers, homeless shelters, and other places where they find people are vulnerable to exploitation.

“I was picturing someone opening it and just feeling relief and feeling that someone actually cares about them,” said Audrey Hogan from St. Paul Lutheran Church in Lititz, Pa.

United Against Human Trafficking says the organization distributes around 150 kits each week, but thanks to the young volunteers, 2,000 more will be given to those who need them. 

The ELCA Youth Gathering ends on Sunday.