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Project Rescue's Red Bucket Day campaign is more than a fundraiser

Volunteers with Project Rescue say the ultimate goal of the Red Bucket campaign is to spread awareness that human trafficking is every community's problem.
red bucket day 2023
Posted at 8:16 PM, Mar 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-31 23:21:42-04

Project Rescue has spent the last month spreading awareness about human trafficking and what to look for if you suspect it happening near you. To close out the month of awareness-raising, Project Rescue is collecting donations throughout Bakersfield with their Red Bucket Day.

With red buckets and signs, volunteers like Faith Heath say their goal is not just to raise money, but to inform as many people as possible about the issue of human trafficking.

"Human trafficking has no bias. It affects everyone, and so if it affects one person it affects us all," said Heath. "So we all need to know about the topic. We all need to know what it looks like and how to stop it."

faith heath
Faith Heath, Project Rescue volunteer

The campaign began the month of March with press conferences and awareness-raising galas. Now at the end, volunteers have been posted at 4 different sites throughout Bakersfield, including in partnership with Luigi's Restaurant in Downtown Bakersfield, to expand their reach.

Coordinator for Project Rescue Cynthia Giumarra says that when the campaign first started in 2012, even she didn't realize just how bad the situation really was. After hearing the same thing from other community members, she knew something had to be done.

"When we were out on our very first Red Bucket campaign, we had people stop us as they were coming to our tents, and they said 'This isn't going on here. Why are you doing this?' and we said, 'Because it's going on here,'" said Guimarra.

2023 is the 9th annual Red Bucket Day. According to Giumarra, the campaign raised roughly $20,000 last year, and Project Rescue hopes to surpass that number this year.

"No one person can do everything, but every person can do something, and this is our something," said Giumarra.

cynthia giumarra project rescue
Cynthia Giumarra, Coordinator for Project Rescue

Project Rescue volunteer Jesse Rojas, who took part in Red Bucket Day collecting donations, says the work has been very rewarding.

"The cases are rising every single year with human trafficking, so not only do we want to create awareness, but at the same time we want to promote to everyone that you can make a difference. Not only by donating. By getting involved," said Rojas.

Rojas adds that he would like to see more men participate in spreading awareness, since it's not just women who can be affected by human trafficking.

jesse rojas
Jesse Rojas, Project Rescue volunteer

"Many times, most people won't think that as men you should get involved and do something against human trafficking, but it's also important as men to speak out against it," said Rojas.

The 180 volunteers participating in Friday's Red Bucket campaign raised more than $6,600 within the first 4 hours.

Giumarra says she will continue these efforts to ensure the safety not only of victims, but of the community, by spreading awareness.

"It is a modern-day slavery and my heart is broken. I want to do as much as I can to help those people have rescue from what's happening to them," said Giumarra.

All funds collected on Red Bucket Day will go towards the Kern Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

And while Red Bucket Day may be over, there are still ways to get involved and help. To make a donation to Project Rescue, you can text the word RESCUE to 727-4050. You can also visit the Canyon Hills Project Rescue website for more information about the organization and their mission.


According to the United States Department of Homeland Security, a few of the signs that someone might be involved in human trafficking could be:

  • If a student, whether primary or college, suddenly stops attending school
  • If a person under the age of 18 is engaging in commercial sex acts
  • If a person always seems to have numerous bruises in various stages of healing
  • If a person reacts in a fearful, timid, or submissive manner, even with those who pose no threat

Bear in mind that these are just a few of the indicators. A person who may match one of these criteria does not necessarily mean human trafficking is happening. For more information on the signs of human trafficking, visit the Department of Homeland Security's website.

Finally, do not confront someone you suspect of trafficking. Not only could you be risking your safety, you could be risking the safety of a trafficked person. Instead, contact law enforcement. In Bakersfield, BPD is available at 327-7111. You can also contact the Kern County Sheriff's Office at 391-7500. If you would like to remain anonymous, you can call Kern Secret Witness at 322-4040.