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Volunteers sort buttons for future Bakersfield Holocaust memorial

Chabad of Bakersfield Holocaust Memorial Button Sorting
Posted at 10:32 PM, May 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-24 01:32:07-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The first and only Holocaust remembrance museum in the Central Valley is expected to open in Kern County this fall. But in the meantime, volunteers say there is a lot of work to be done and the community is coming together to help.

Volunteers are helping to honor those who were killed in the Holocaust by cleaning and sorting buttons that will be among millions to fill a memorial. And ShePOWER Leadership Academy volunteers, including kids, got involved by sorting 80,000 buttons while also teaching the history and importance of recognizing the lives lost.

“I think it’s important that we do this to show respect to the people who had their lives taken away,” said volunteer Joshua Carter.

Volunteers of all ages sorted thousands of buttons by material like plastic, glass, wood, and others.

“I came up with a new tactic. I shake it in my hand and I listen to all the plastic ones and I dump it in there,” said another young volunteer.

Once all 6-million buttons are cleaned and sorted they will then be used to create the Holocaust Memorial at the Chabad of Bakersfield. The memorial is made up of 6-transparent vaults, containing one million buttons each.

Volunteer Phil Rudnick says each button represents a life lost.

“Life is precious and that is what this whole project is about is to use the unfortunate tragedy of the Holocaust to convey to the world that the sanctity of life is something that everyone should support.”

ShePOWER Global Ambassador Arleana Waller says the project made an impression on each of the kids.

“When we think about the significance of the children murdered they are just like the children in the room tonight. Their different so i think it was important for them to understand how significant that is and really focus on being kind to all people.”

She says she will continue to encourage them to get involved in the future.

“These children just made history. They will forever have the imprint on that memorial and will be able to walk hand in had with the Jewish children, the Black children, the white children the Hispanic children.”

Rudnick says when the museum opens, the Kern County community can expect a peaceful experience.

“It's going to be a very serene area in the garden where these plastic vaults will be placed on pedestals where people can engage their thoughts and they can hopefully come away with a renewed commitment that life is precious.”

Rudnick says he spoke to the rabbi who says it will take two to three months more to get all of the buttons sorted before they can be used in the memorial. And the Chabad of Bakersfield needs your help. If you or someone you know would like to get involved, you can do so by contacting the Chabad of Bakersfield at (661) 834-1512.