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Search and rescue teams serve homeless and help close gaps in missing persons cases

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- The Greater Michigan Search and Rescue handed out warm clothing and necessities to the homeless at Bronson Park in Kalamazoo Saturday. In return, they asked those receiving the donations to look at photos of missing persons in hopes of getting answers for families all over the state.

"It is cold, and they're out here 24/7 365 days a year," said Kellie Boers of Greater Michigan Search and Rescue. "(The homeless are) out here all day, all night, every day, every night. So why not try to give them a little comfort while they're out here, too?

For the past three years, Greater Michigan Search and Rescue has teamed up with search teams across the state to try to close the gap on that challenge.

"I need more clothes because ... it is getting more cold, and this is the best time of the year, because people are more giving this time of the year," said Kevin Moore, who received some warm clothes that afternoon. "My situation is different, but it's not unique."

In return, the search teams ask for help in closing another gap: finding information in missing persons cases.

"There can be missing amongst our homeless community, so why not reach out to our homeless community, have them take a look, give us information?" said Boers. "We take that information when we leave here today, and we call those detectives in charge of those cases, and we give them the information we were given."

During the first year, the rescue teams gathered information on seven missing persons.

And any information could help lead to answers.

Boers says for the families of the missing, the not knowing can be the hardest part of it all, a feeling she says is all too familiar.

"If you think they're out walking the streets or living a life somewhere and you don't know, that's kind of horrible, but what if it's worse?" Boers said. "In my cousins case, we're 99 percent sure it is worse. So, I do this specifically because I don't want other families to have to wait 28 years like we do."

On Saturday, the rescue teams handed out warm clothing items from 10 to noon, offering a Subway gift card and a chance to call home. Greater Michigan Search and Rescue hopes to continue this event next year.

Boers also hopes to have a fundraiser for her cousin, Richard Hitchcock, who disappeared 28 years ago. You can find out more information by clicking here. 

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