The Georgia Association of Convenience Stores (GACS) earned a 2019 ASAE Power of A Summit Award for its Convenience Stores Against Trafficking (CSAT) program dedicated to eradicating human trafficking by training workers and providing tools and resources association members.
ASAE honored the program that encourages convenience stores to serve their communities by registering for CSAT, a no cost program focused on equipping convenience store employees with proper training and materials to safely recognize the signs and report human trafficking. Materials include Freedom stickers for restroom stalls, as well as an education video produced by their partner, IN OUR BACKYARD (IOB).
In 2018, Georgia was seventh in the nation for the most cases of human trafficking reported to the National HT Hotline. What began for GACS as an initiative surrounding the 2019 Super Bowl in Atlanta has become an ongoing program to fight human trafficking. As of March 1, 2019, through the first six months of this partnership, 25 percent of GACS retail membership and 19 percent of member store locations have taken part: 17 member companies have registered for CSAT; 281 retail store locations have received training and placed life-saving Freedom stickers in restroom stalls.
To gain maximum visibility, GACS organized a press conference at the state Capitol to announce its partnership with IOB. Present were State Representative Chuck Efstration, GBI and FBI officials, the executive directors of IOB and Wellspring Living (a halfway house for trafficking victims), and two GACS member convenience store retailers representing 152 Georgia retail locations. Activities further included distribution of Missing Children’s booklets and visits to hundreds of metro area convenience stores to equip them to recognize and report human trafficking. Within three hours of the launch of this activity, on January 26th, store managers and clerks had given two credible leads to law enforcement that led to arrest and rescue.
As of May 23, 2019, 29 of the 34 children in the Missing Children’s book have been recovered. Seven adult victims have come out of their situations and received help.
ASAE’s Power of A (association) Awards, the industry’s highest honor, recognize the association community’s valuable contributions on the local, national and global levels. The Power of A Awards reward the outstanding accomplishments of associations and industry professionals who work tirelessly to solve problems, and strengthen lives, the workforce, the economy, and the world.