KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Volunteers who normally hit the streets to search for missing teens and children are turning to social media during the pandemic.
This year’s Search KC event is virtual because of COVID-19 and, while some of their methods have temporarily changed, their goals remain the same.
The digital posters of missing young people are being shared online using the hashtag “#SearchKC.”
Local non-profits and volunteers hope that, with the help of a watchful community, those who are missing can be found safe.
For the last two years, groups of volunteers canvassed near casinos, hotels, motels, bars, restaurants and businesses, sharing photos of missing children and teens with the help of The Big Search, F.R.E.E. International and KlaasKIDS.
“Then a pandemic hit our city,” said Lucy Bloom, the executive director Veronica’s Voice.
This year, local nonprofits teamed up with Veronica’s Voice to ask our community to share missing persons posters on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
“Trying to light up every crevice,” said Bloom. “We also have specialized internet search teams that are looking to see what information we can gather.”
“With COVID, of course it’s a challenging time,” said Cameron Erlandson the COO of Avenue of Life. “We have to wear masks. We have to stay away from one another.”
“It was really critical that we do it because people who are off grid are even more invisible right now,” said Bloom.
The groups are working with law enforcement and social services to follow leads and offer help.
“If we as a team, as organizations, partner together, we can reach out and find these kids and help them get to a place that is safe and stable,” said Erlandson. “We open up the opportunities for them to have a future.”
“One in six missing children are thought to be at risk of being commercially sexually exploited,” Bloom said. “We really want to stand with the families and let them know that their child is not forgotten.”
While at the Search KC 2020 command center at Avenue of Life on Friday, volunteers received several promising leads.
“We may not know why someone is missing,” Bloom said. “People will call them runaways, or they will call them troublemakers, or they will call them drug addicts. But you know what? They are missing and they are in danger. They need to know where to go and there is a community that cares.”
Each digital missing person’s poster shows what numbers to call if you believe you’ve seen them. Click here to view them.