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Electronic billboards to highlight D.C. area missing kids

Date: August 06, 2015

On Wednesday, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children kicked off their 'Summer of Hope' billboard initiative, a partnership with Clear Channel Outdoor, to show our area's missing kids first throughout D.C. and Baltimore, and then throughout the country.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Ron Chew was sitting a Metro bus shelter near 14th Street and I Street NW midday Wednesday when WUSA 9 asked him to take a look at some photos.

They were photos of Alysha Howard of Alexandria, missing since October 2014 and Relisha Rudd of Washington D.C., missing since March 2014.

Chew said he had never seen either of them.

This is exactly what the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is hoping to change.

On Wednesday, they kicked off their 'Summer of Hope' billboard initiative, a partnership with Clear Channel Outdoor, to show our area's missing kids first throughout D.C. and Baltimore, and then throughout the country.

“The public is familiar with the wonderful success of finding the girls in Cleveland, Jaycee Dugard who was missing for many years, Elizabeth Smart, so we never give up hope,” said the Center’s Chief Operating Officer, Michelle Collins.

Photos are one of the most vital tools to getting these missing children home, according to those participating Wednesday. The kickoff press conference, held at the National Press Club, included the photos and families of some people we’ve heard about, like missing children, Sarah and Jacob Hoggle.

It also included those you may not have heard of or seen before, like 15-year-old Maurisha Davis.  Her parents told WUSA9 Davis is a runaway from Prince George's County who was last seen this past December.

"I miss her so much. You know I'm sure she's somewhere being held somewhere, you know what I mean, with somebody she doesn't really know,” said Brenda Davis.

She started to tear up standing next to her daughter's missing ad, saying they’ve been relying on family and friends to help pass out flyers.

"I want to thank everybody that's trying to help. A little bit is better than nothing, but this is amazing,” Davis said.

"A lot of children can't speak for themselves and I was telling someone earlier, that's what raises the level of urgency for us,” said Commander Daniel Hickson with the Metropolitan Police Department. Hickson’s team is responsible for investigating all missing person's cases in the District of Columbia, including the case of Relisha Rudd.

About 50 Metro shelters throughout D.C. and 14 shelters and billboards in Baltimore will air the photos of missing children from D.C., Virginia and Maryland starting Wednesday.

In the coming weeks, the campaign will expand to other major cities including Chicago and Los Angeles.

Troy Turner, the father of missing Sarah and Jacob Hoggle, told WUSA 9 he’s even more grateful these photos are being displayed now.

"Now that I'm not capable of being out there on TV every day. I'm back at work, I'm capable of keeping it out there the way that I am, this really helps. So it's huge and the fact that it's gonna, it's a national campaign, also helps since we have leads all over the place,” said Turner.

Back at the downtown bus shelter, Chew continued to look at the photos. "If it brings about change and they get more views, hopefully, they'll find them,” he said.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there were more than 460,000 reports of missing children made to law enforcement in the U.S. last year. They also say law enforcement has seen an increase in cases of child sexual exploitation in recent years.

The billboards are expected to remain up throughout the month of August.

See the original article here.


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