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story.lead_photo.caption FILE: At last year's Hugs not Drugs event, Jasper Taylor spoke of his experiences with addiction. Photo by Helen Wilbers / Fulton Sun.

The second Hugs not Drugs event, scheduled for Saturday afternoon at Heartland Church, will shine a light on addiction and human trafficking.

"People need to have uncomfortable conversations," organizer April Ogden-DeTienne said.

The goal of the event, hosted by the William C. Potter Foundation, is not to wallow in the dark but instead to bring the community to address hard truths while also providing support and hope, she explained.

The event will run 11 a.m.-5 p.m., during which speakers will talk about their experiences with addiction and "getting clean."

Anyone suffering from addiction, in recovery or affected by addiction in any way is welcome.

"Come listen to people that have been there," a flier for the event reads.

Groups like Missouri Missing, Stop Human Trafficking and Carl's Helping Hands will also be on site, educating the community on their causes.

The event began last year, with a crowd of around 100 coming out to take part. Ogden-DeTienne labeled the event a success.

"People were really grateful that they got to be a part of something like that, and there was healing because they got to see people who got their way out," Ogden-DeTienne said.

Many attendees have loved ones who struggle with addiction. Speakers at the event can help provide hope.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, Ogden-DeTienne wasn't sure whether to hold a second event.

"When the coronavirus stuck, we had to put it to the side," she said.

But then Heartland Church offered its space, and Ogden-DeTienne heard from friends on Facebook that they wanted to go forward with the event.

The space is large enough for attendees to distance themselves, Ogden-DeTienne said, and masks are encouraged. To address the importance of keeping apart, the event this year has been re-dubbed "Air" Hugs not Drugs.

Ogden-DeTienne hopes the event continues to grow.

"But if we teach one person along the way, then we've accomplished what we wanted to do," she said.

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