KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- An event that aims to find vulnerable missing children and raise awareness about human trafficking needs volunteers for this year’s Search KC.
Last year, the pandemic caused the event to be virtual. This year, Search KC Director Maureen Reintjes hopes volunteers can once again canvas communities to help find missing children and teens.
Search KC needs volunteers to hand out missing persons booklets from September 30th through October 2nd.
During 2020, Search KC relied on posting missing photos and flyers on social media. Specialized internet search teams helped follow leads.
“One in six missing children are thought to be at risk of being commercially sexually exploited,” Veronica's Voice Executive Director Lucy Bloom said last year.
This year, Search KC’s goal is to be a visible presence to remind the community they aren’t giving up on finding those who are missing.
“The more times these kids’ pictures are shown the better chance we have of finding them,” Reintjes said.
Since 2018, local organizations and volunteers have teamed up to search.
“We try and go to areas where we have gotten tips. Where they may have been last seen,” Reintjes said. “We try and go into areas that we know are high traffic areas.”
Back in 2018, KCTV5 followed a group of mothers who canvassed area motels and hotels. In 2019, KCTV5 News interviewed students and family court employees as they canvassed downtown bars, restaurants, coffee shops, casinos, and businesses near the KCI airport.
“If we get just one tip, that’s a success story to us,” Reintjes said. “It’s telling a family out there someone saw your child alive.”
Since local search efforts began, the work of volunteers combined with actionable tips have helped find missing teens each year.
“Some of these children may see themselves and know that ‘hey someone loves me enough to be out here looking for me,’” Reintjes said.
Search KC would like community members to volunteer for shifts during September 30th-October 2nd. The volunteer shifts are from 10:00AM-2:00PM and 4:00PM-8:00PM. They ask volunteers to arrive one hour before the volunteer shifts begin.