The convenience store industry is demonstrating this week that the “c” in “c-store” doesn’t just stand for convenience; it also stands for community.
NACS, TravelCenters of America (TA) and BP are sponsoring work to raise awareness of human trafficking and help find missing and endangered children in Las Vegas before the Big Game, the companies said.
TA and BP are collaborating with the non-profit organization, In Our Backyard, to distribute TA and BP-sponsored booklets with photos of missing children in the area who are at high risk for trafficking. The booklets are being distributed at convenience stores across Las Vegas, including a TA in Las Vegas and Petro North Las Vegas.
NACS took part in an anti-human trafficking event coordinated by In Our Backyard, the group behind Convenience Stores Against Trafficking, on February 3, in Las Vegas. The event is held a week before the Super Bowl in the host city to raise awareness of the issue, as well as help find missing children in the community.
“Convenience stores are the eyes and ears of the community,” Jeff Lenard, vice president of strategic industry initiatives at NACS, said at the event. “And that’s why today is important. We have a chance to not just educate people about an issue, but to have conservations that can go beyond this week.”
Attendees came out to help place “Freedom Stickers” displaying the human trafficking hotline inside public restroom stalls and distribute Missing Children Books containing photos of missing and endangered children to local convenience stores.
The effort is in partnership with BP America, TravelCenters of America (TA), NACS, Send Relief, and The Hub.
Professional drivers and convenience stores are in a unique position to spot the signs of human trafficking. Traffickers use the transportation system to move their victims through the country and convenience sites have extended hours of operation, ease of access, and public restrooms.
In 2023, 16 of 36 missing children were recovered within one week due to these direct outreach efforts in coordination with the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and local law enforcement. To date, thousands of Freedom Stickers have been placed in c-stores in the Super Bowl’s host city.
NACS has information for how retailers can work to join the fight against human trafficking.
In addition, TA is hosting the Freedom Driver’s Project, a Truckers Against Trafficking mobile exhibit that educates truck drivers and the public about human trafficking. On Saturday, February 10, the exhibit will be at the TA Las Vegas located at 58050 Dean Martin Drive in Las Vegas.