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Volunteers lead effort to help locate missing people

Posted at 4:59 PM, Oct 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-18 18:59:27-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hundreds of volunteers are canvassing the Kansas City metro to raise awareness about missing people. 

They are handing out pamphlets filled with the names and pictures of more than 30 missing people, mostly youth and girls. 

Big Search is a national effort through F.R.E.E. International and KlassKIDS, nonprofits dedicated to finding missing children and ending human trafficking through trainings, searches and outreach efforts.

Searches take place across the country every year. 

Many local organizations like Veronica's Voice, KC-CASE and Missouri Missing are participating in the effort.

"You're going to bring a family, hopefully, bring them their answer," said Maureen Reintjes with Missouri Missing. 

The volunteers were instructed to ask business owners to keep their eyes out for the missing people and also watch out for any suspicious behavior that could suggest sex trafficking. 

Leigh Ann Allen volunteered Thursday morning and said some of the hotels around the Country Club Plaza area said they had noticed signs of sex trafficking before. Allen said she thought it was a good experience. 

"Most people were interested. There was a few people who you could tell they just wanted to do their job; they take it and more than likely don't look at it. So I'm interested in, how do I reach those people? Because every person matters," Allen said. 

Reintjes said a societal shift needs to take place to bring these missing children home. 

"From the very beginning it has to be taken seriously by law enforcement. It has to be taken seriously by the media. I mean, most of these cases never make it onto any kind of news whatsoever. It takes the families having to promote the missing, and many don't know how to do that," Reintjes said. 

Jo Grammond, another volunteer, said it is everyone's duty to make sure these kids are loved. 

"I have a teenager myself, and I just think how I would feel if he wasn't there one day," Grammond said. "It's heartwrenching when you think about parents who don't know where their kid is." 

Big Search KC continues through Saturday.

Volunteers should take an online orientation prior to showing up to search. Groups will go out from 8-10 a.m., 1-5 p.m., and 6-10 p.m. 

While the Big Search KC is raising awareness for hundreds of missing people in the metro, they are focusing on a group of 30 people:

  • Isabella Ellis - Missing from Lee's Summit, Missouri since Jan. 13, 2018
  • Nidia Balderrama - Missing from Kansas City, Kansas since Feb. 16, 2018
  • Angelina Rullman - Missing from Columbia, Missouri since June 12, 2018
  • Charlie Edington - Missing from Green Ridge, Missouri since Sept. 23, 2018
  • Aaliyah Kidd - Missing from Kansas City, Missouri since May 7, 2018
  • Blessing Oliver - Missing from Columbia, Missouri since May 26, 2018
  • Brian Valley - Missing from Normandy, Missouri since June 24, 2018
  • Ilana Porter - Missing from Topeka, Kansas since July 6, 2018
  • Jade Hall - Missing from Topeka, Kansas since April 14, 2018
  • Shallamar Novak - Missing from Lee's Summit, Missouri since June 8, 2018
  • Emily Coston - Missing from Leawood, Kansas since Sept. 11, 2018
  • Elizabeth Hetrick - Missing from Omaha, Nebraska since Sept. 18, 2018
  • Destiny Dority - Missing from Topeka, Kansas since May 5, 2018
  • Nancy Arita-Salazar - Missing from Overland Park, Kansas since Aug. 13, 2017
  • Justice Edwards - Missing from Lawrence, Kansas since Sept. 14, 2018
  • Marissa Klingert - Missing from Imperial, Missouri since March 19, 2018
  • Ivonne Cruz - Missing from Great Bend, Kansas since March 29, 2018
  • Trinity Rathburn - Missing from Joplin, Missouri since Sept. 5, 2018
  • Donald Hendrick - Missing from Jefferson City, Missouri since July 21, 2018
  • Emilee Shipley - Missing from Rolla, Missouri since March 24, 2018 
  • Cheslina Edington - Missing from Green Ridge, Missouri since Sept. 23, 2018
  • Keonna Boyd - Missing from Kansas City, Kansas since Sept. 7, 2018
  • Laniya Townsend - Missing from Florrisant, Missouri since July 5, 2017 
  • Lydiana Gomez - Missing from Minatare, Nebraksa since July 20, 2018
  • Lacey Schoster - Missing from Mount Vernon, Missouri since July 9, 2017
  • Briceida Ibarra Ramirez - Missing from Wichita, Kansas since Feb. 2, 2018
  • Amanda Davis - Missing from Kansas City, Kansas since Sept. 5, 2018
  • Katelin Caddell - Missing from Topeka, Kansas since May 28, 2018
  • Lisa Renee Irwin - Missing from Kansas City, Missouri since Oct. 3, 2011
  • Desirea Ferris - Missing from Liberty, Missouri since May 1, 2017
  • Jamie Toliver - Missing from Kansas City, Missouri since April 14, 2017
  • Kenisha Washington - Missing from Kansas City, Missouri since Sept. 24, 2018
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