C-Stores Fight Human Trafficking

Retailers and suppliers can help raise awareness on January 11—#WearBlueDay.

January 06, 2021

We Care Sign in a Convenience Store

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—With 152,000 convenience stores located in every community across the United States, convenience stores are helping to lead positive change with respect to the fight against human trafficking on January 11, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

NACS is working with two groups to raise awareness of the issue on January 11 and throughout the month, which is Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and encourages convenience retailers to also participate.

DHS “Blue Campaign”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “Blue Campaign” is encouraging people to wear blue clothing on January 11, and use social media to raise awareness of the issue of human trafficking. The Blue Campaign is a national public awareness campaign, designed to educate the public, law enforcement and other industry partners (NACS has been a partner since 2017) to recognize the indicators of human trafficking, and how to appropriately respond to possible cases.

Join NACS and the Blue Campaign as we share our stories across social media platforms. Share photos of yourself and your employees wearing or holding something blue and include #WearBlueDay and #conveniencecares. DHS has developed graphics to share out on social media on its Wear Blue Day webpage.

NACS also worked with the Blue Campaign to develop a new resource: “Human Trafficking Awareness Guide for Convenience Retail Employees,” which highlights what human trafficking is, the indicators and how to report the crime.

“Convenience retailers can play a significant role in combating human trafficking because of their presence in virtually every community—urban, suburban and rural—as well as their often 24/7 operations. Because convenience retail employees observe and communicate with the public so frequently, they are in a unique position to observe indicators of human trafficking while working,” said Jonathan Barry, the campaign coordinator for the Blue Campaign.

Convenience Stores Against Trafficking

Also, on January 11, IN OUR BACKYARD is hosting a Zoom kick-off meeting with its executive director and child sex trafficking survivor, Cheryl Csiky, to share how companies can participate in the organization’s Freedom Sticker Outreach. NACS has partnered with IN OUR BACKYARD’s Convenience Stores Against Trafficking (CSAT) since 2018 to amplify the important role convenience stores have to help raise awareness about human trafficking.

More than 20,000 convenience stores and 17 state-based convenience store associations and 184 convenience store companies have partnered with CSAT. In recognition of the c-store industry’s contributions, NACS Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives Jeff Lenard was named IN OUR BACKYARD’s 2020 “Hero of the Year.”

“With your help and commitment, we can get even closer to our goal of posting Freedom Stickers in every restroom in America. Freedom Stickers offer a pathway to freedom and safety for victims of human trafficking. Inside a public restroom is the safest place for them to reach out for help,” said Csiky. 

More than 500,000 Freedom Stickers have been posted over the past decade. Click here to order Freedom Stickers. And click here to sign up for the Zoom call with Csiky, which will take place at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Coast Time on January 11.

Super Bowl Outreach

In addition, IN OUR BACKYARD will conduct is 12th annual Super Bowl outreach, “One Team Against Trafficking,” to help find missing children in the community that is hosting the Super Bowl over the week leading up to the game. This year’s event will take place on January 30 at Grace Family Church, 5101 Van Dyke Rd, Lutz, Florida, (just north of Super Bowl host city Tampa). Retailer and supplier members interested in participating should contact Csiky at cheryl@inourbackyard.org.

“Consumers tell us that they have more favorable opinions of business that address important societal issues like fighting human trafficking. A September 2018 NACS consumer survey revealed that 40% of respondents believe human trafficking is an issue that they want our industry to be engaged in fighting, and a February 2019 survey found that 90% say they have a more favorable opinion of stores who fight human trafficking,” said Lenard.

NACS has more information and resources online to help fight human trafficking. Read how c-stores like Casey’s and Kum & Go are helping in the fight in “In Your Backyard” in the January 2020 issue of NACS Magazine.