This summer, the South Coastal Library in Bethany Beach will be offering a new program designed to help identify children in the event that they are ever lost.
New York Life insurance agent William Fraser will be attending three children’s storytimes at the library, to give parents the opportunity to have an identification card created that will include the child’s fingerprint, photo and other vital information.
“We’re going to have him in the meeting room,” explained Library Director Sue Keefe. “If the children understood why you were doing it, they might be a little upset, so we’ll have the children’s program going on, all the books and toys in the kids’ room to keep them occupied and we will just do a child at a time.”
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, roughly 800,000 children are reported missing each year in the United States — roughly 2,000 per day.
Keefe said that, although it’s not something you’d ever want to plan for, the information would be invaluable in a worse-case scenario.
“Last summer, this little girl rode up to the library on her bicycle and came inside. She was upset and crying a little. She had been riding on the road down the street. I don’t know what happened, but she got left behind. Thank God she knew enough to see the library and knew it was safe and we’d help her. So, it does happen.”
Programs like the Child ID program offered at the library can provide families with child identification materials that may prove critical should an emergency occur.
“I thought, it’s a sad thing you have to do it, but it’s a really good thing in case your kid actually wanders away from you on the beach or anywhere. You’ll have the info, you’ll have the photo, you’ll already have their fingerprint. It doesn’t hurt to have it,” she said.
The ID programs will be held on June 20, July 11 and Aug. 1 at the library, from 10 a.m. to noon. They are free and open to the public, but a child’s parent or guardian must be present in order to participate.
“They’ll also do a sound recording,” said Keefe. “There’s no way to give the parents the sound recording, but they’ll keep it on file. So, God forbid, if the police would need the voice recording, they would simply have to contact New York Life. They will actually deliver all the info to the police; if you don’t have the information, to the police agency that you’re working with.”
Keefe said that cookies and balloons will be on offer for the children participating, and parents will receive the cards that day.
“They get the card right then and there, and the contact info.”
Keefe added that the library has extended an invitation to various groups and agencies in the area to take part in the free program.
“We thought it would be a good idea to run it three times. It changes so much here in the summer. The people who are here in June are not here in July and the people who are here in July aren’t here in August. So we thought it would be a good idea to run it three times, one in each month, staggering the dates, hoping to catch who we could.”
She added that she hopes many people will take advantage of the free program and the library’s safe environment to acquire the identification cards.
“The library is a good place to do it — it’s nonthreatening,” she said. “It would never hurt. Even if you’ve done it before, you might want it to be updated.”
For more information, call the South Coastal Library at (302) 539-5231 or visit www.delaware.gov/SouthCoastal.