Working with Volunteers: Key Points and Activities

 1. Volunteers are essential to the search process. They can and will play a variety of roles in the effort to find your child.

2. The role of the volunteer coordinator is not to handle volunteer activities directly, but rather to delegate to others management of specific activities, such as bringing food to the family, providing water for the searchers, and coordinating distribution of posters and fliers.

3. If you need something, the best thing you can do for yourself is to ask for help. You will be amazed by the amount of support you receive from others.

4. Keep a running list -- or have someone keep a list for you -- of the things you need as they arise.

5. When someone offers to help, write down the person's name, telephone number, and type of service preferred so you can contact that individual later when you are prepared to accept the offer.

6. Don't use unknown volunteers to do personal tasks, such as washing laundry or helping with carpools. If you feel uncomfortable with anyone or anything for any reason, inform your volunteer coordinator or primary law enforcement contact.

7. Many local clubs, businesses, and agencies can help in a variety of ways -- by donating items, distributing photographs and fliers, or participating in the search. Make a list of what you need, and see what each group can provide.

8. Even though private individuals, organizations, and businesses may be interested in helping with the search effort, it is usually easier to work with organized groups, which can quickly mobilize large, cohesive bands of searchers and can work through an already established chain of command.

9. Make sure that a list of the names and addresses of all volunteers is kept so thank-you notes can be written and law enforcement can refer to it during the investigatory process.

10. Be wary of organizations that promise they can find your missing child, that request payment for these services, or that are unknown in this field

Suggested Volunteer Activities

Volunteers can do many things for you. Let them. In doing so, you allow people to fulfill their desire to help, and you relieve yourself of the burden of trying to do everything yourself, which you cannot. The following activities are particularly well suited for volunteers.

Participate in the physical search.

Canvas area businesses for donations of supplies needed for the search effort or for the family's upkeep.

Design posters or fliers.

Tack up pictures and posters and hand out fliers.

Contact nonprofit organizations, community groups, or other agencies in the community for donations or other assistance in producing or distributing posters.

Keep track of all donated items and write thank-you notes.

Answer the home telephone 24 hours a day and maintain a telephone log.

Prepare meals.

Help with household chores, such as cleaning, doing laundry, watering flowers, mowing the lawn, maintaining the yard, or shoveling the driveway.

Run errands, such as shopping for groceries or going to the pharmacy.

Take care of pets.

Form prayer groups.

Source:  Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Report:  When Your Child is Missing