More than 2,000 children each day are reported missing in this country. More than one million children are reported missing in any one-year time period. Since its inception in 1984, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has handled more than 2.4 million service-related phone calls. The center receives an average of 262 calls per day. If you don’t think the issue of missing children affects you, you’re wrong. It affects all of us.
Authorities are left to scramble when reports of a missing child surfaces. The creation of the Amber Alert program certainly helps to quickly locate children. Since 1997, the Amber Alert program has been credited with the recovery of 495 children. There are now 120 Amber Alert programs across the country.
But, despite this, we can do more. And Pacific, WA-based Gordon Trucking is doing more.
“The Washington State Patrol approached us in the spring of 2006 about posting photos of missing children on our trailers,” said Chief Operating Officer Steve Gordon. “As a locally owned and operated company, we were happy to help the state and the communities that Gordon Trucking serves.”
The program, dubbed Homeward Bound, stated with just four trailers, but now Gordon has about 70 trailers in its fleet of more than 1,400 vehicles that are adorned with pictures of missing children. Currently, there are 19 children in the program. A picture of the child, both at the time of disappearance and another that is age-progressed to show what the child may look like today, the name of the child and contact information for NCMEC are included.
In its first year, the Washington State Patrol reported a 37% increase in the number of tips called into its clearinghouse for missing children. One of the original four children featured was located six months after first appearing on a Gordon Trucking trailer and returned to her mother.
“The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that 1 in 6 children are successfully recovered due to the public viewing a picture,” said Washington State Patrol Missing Persons Unit Manager Luci Stewart. “Because people spend so much of their lives in their vehicles, this was naturally a great way to reach them.”
Washington State has approximately 1,800 missing children cases at any given time.
“Since the program’s beginning, three children that the State Patrol featured on our trailers have been found alive,” said Gordon. “Although the State Patrol cannot directly attribute this success to the posters, Gordon Trucking’s involvement in the program has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my professional career.”
And whether it directly results in more children coming home or not, the program raises awareness of the problem.
“The Homeward Bound Program exemplifies a partnership between government and the private sector that can truly make a difference,” said American Trucking Association President and CEO Bill Graves. “I commend the efforts of Gordon Trucking and the Washington State Patrol, and pray all of these children are found.”
Gordon, which operates in 48 states, also sends Amber Alerts out to its drivers through its Qualcomm onboard satellite communications systems.
If you have any information in regards to the location missing children, please contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: www.missingkids.com
Washington State Patrol’s web site: www.wsp.wa.gov
Gordon Trucking: www.gordontrucking.com
Amber Alert program: www.amberalert.gov
American Trucking Association: www.truckline.com
Washington Trucking Association: www.wtatrucking.com
Budget Auto Wrecking: www.budgetautowrecking.biz