Facebook recently announced that it will deliver AMBER Alerts to people's News Feeds in targeted search areas after a child has been abducted. Learn more here.
When 14-hour days seven days a week are your normal, days sometimes run together. But then, right in the middle of feeling "every day is basically the same," something happens to open your eyes to the importance of individuals looking out for each other. This is my story of how Facebook played a part in my unusual opportunity to help some total strangers.
My husband, Jon, and I have owned and run the Colonial Inn in South Carolina for more than 30 years. It is located in downtown Florence, which makes it a good stopover place for people traveling both North and South. It is a full time job for both of us to run a motel that is open 24 hours a day. Working the front office can get very hectic at times, but at other times I may have a stretch of down time. During these times, I sit down with my iPad and check my mail and go on Facebook.
One evening in early March started out just like so many others. When I had a moment to myself and opened up Facebook, I was surprised by something my friend Linda had posted. It was an AMBER Alert. I had seen them before, but this one was different because I recognized the two faces in the post!
The evening before, a man and his daughter checked in for the night. There was nothing out of the ordinary about them. The little girl appeared to be a happy, curious child. The next morning, when the man came in and paid for another night, I didn't think anything about it. But at that moment, looking at the alert, there was no doubt in my mind it was the same man and child that were just across the parking lot from where I was sitting.
The alert said the man was suspected of committing a crime and taking his daughter with him as he ran from the law. The police in Baltimore had issued the alert, which meant the father and daughter had traveled about 400 miles to get to our motel. After checking our room registry to verify the man's identity, I called the police. While I was startled that it was me who had made the connection, I didn't feel scared.
Two police officers came by and I showed them the Facebook post and the registry. At that time, they took over and a SWAT team was assembled. When everything was in place, they went and knocked on the door. Thankfully, the man came out without any problems and the little girl was fine.
I never imagined that I would be the person to do something like this, but it has taught me how important one person can be. I am thankful my friend posted the alert, and I am thankful that God placed me in the office when they checked in and that I had time to stop and check Facebook when I did.
I hope my story will encourage others to look carefully at every AMBER Alert and then be aware of those around you. You never know who you might have seen or how you might be able to help.
Get more information about AMBER Alerts on Facebook.