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Red Sand Spread to Bring Awareness to Human Trafficking

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"Today we're out here putting the red sand out," said Jana Grabenstein with the Central Health Center.

It's meant to raise questions.

"It strikes up a conversation, which is all I’m asking for," said Grabenstein, who spearheaded the nationwide movement locally to bring awareness to human trafficking in Grand Island.

"It's something that we need to be talking about. It’s here. We need to protect our kids, our families, our friends. Anyone can fall victim to it and you know we just need to stop it," she said.

More than 100 bags of red sand were spread around G.I. on Tuesday.

"When we saw it, the first thing I said was, ‘This has to be something the Salvation Army heavily gets involved in,’" said Deny Cacy, the G.I. Salvation Army men’s shelter director.

Cacy said it's important that the people he serves know the signs of human trafficking and the questions to ask.

"A lot of these individuals are either homeless or near homeless or just struggling and therefore they are actually in the organization or facilities where a lot of this is happening, say through hotels, on the streets, at gas stations, truck stops," said Cacy.

Nineteen human trafficking cases were reported in Nebraska to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center in the first nine months of last year. The center got 71 calls referencing activity in the state.

Sometimes it makes headlines, like a crackdown in Omaha in October or arrests in Hall County in December. More often it doesn't.

"Nobody comes out and says, ‘Hey I’ve been a victim of this,’ but we hear about it," said Cacy. "We need to tackle it as a community."

Central Community College students also spread sand in Hastings Tuesday as part of the nationwide movement.

For more on the Red Sand Project, click here.

How can you spot human trafficking victims? The National Human Trafficking Resource Center says look for:

  • Evidence of being controlled
  • Evidence of inability to move or leave job
  • Bruises or other signs of physical abuse
  • Fear or depression
  • Not speaking on own behalf
  • No passport or other forms of identification or documentation

What questions can I ask to determine if a person is a victim of human trafficking?

  • What type of work do you do?
  • Are you being paid?
  • Can you leave your job if you want to?
  • Can you come and go as you please?
  • Have you or your family been threatened?
  • What are your working and living conditions like?
  • Where do you sleep and eat?
  • Do you have to ask permission to eat/sleep/go to the bathroom?
  • Are there locks on your doors/windows so you cannot get out?
  • Has your identification or documentation been taken away from you?

If you suspect you’ve encountered a victim of trafficking, call this hotline: 1-888-373-7888. For more information, click here.

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