On January 11 between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., the Massachusetts State Police hosted a child safety fair at the South Shore Plaza in Braintree in observance of the 11 th Annual National AMBER Alert Awareness Day . This day honors the memory of Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old girl who was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas in 1996. The AMBER Alert program activates an urgent bulletin in the most serious child abduction cases in an attempt to galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and safe recovery of the child.
At today's child safety fair, volunteers from the Molly Bish Institute at Mount Wachusett Community College and the Molly Bish Foundation assisted by members of the Massachusetts State Police, Braintree Police Department, Transit Police Department and Norfolk County Sheriff's Department fingerprinted and photographed a total of 239 children and compiled child identification kits for parents to use in the event that their child goes missing or is abducted. Magi Bish attended the event and helped photograph children for the identification kits. Magi Bish was pleased with the turnout and stated, "Today's event is a great example of public safety agencies working together and with the community to ensure the safety of every child of the Commonwealth." Marybeth Garofoli of Scituate had an identification kit made for her 18-month-old daughter Eva and stated, "I came down today because if anything ever happened to Eva, I would want to be able to provide as much information as possible to the police within the first few hours, because I know how important the first few hours are."
The event also served as the kickoff for the 2008 Amber Alert Poster Contest. The United States Department of Justice sponsors this annual poster contest that challenges fifth grade students to develop posters that represent America's united goal of bringing missing children home safely. The winning poster from each state will be displayed at the National Missing Children's Day Ceremony held in May. The National winner will travel to Washington D.C., along with his/her parents and teacher, to receive an award and participate in the National Missing Children's Day Ceremony. Last year's poster contest winner, 11-year-old Emma Rose Cross of Braintree, was in attendance promoting the poster contest and offered the following advice to this year's fifth grade participants, "Don't look for perfection. Do what you feel is right and do it from the heart."