By Louis Hoglund
Maybe it’s just a coincidence–but none of the thousands of Minnesota kids registered in the Masons “KidsID” program have ever gone missing.
Happenstance or not–more than 50 families went through the process as Pelican Rapids area and Fergus Falls Masons offered the program during Oktoberfest Oct. 5.
One thing is for certain: Families who registered now have a complete kit of important information that gives them comfort and peace of mind.
The process was a well-organized operation, thanks to volunteers from the Pelican Otter Tail Lodge 284 and the Cornerstone Lodge 99, Fergus Falls–who also enlisted a team of Pelican Rapids National Honor Society Students to help at the computer stations.
The KidsID program includes digital fingerprints, digital voice recordings, digital photos, video and DNA sample. The Masons offered the ID service at the Pelican Rapids Volunteer Fire Department fire hall open house last week.
Meanwhile, Izzy Elizondo of Ringdahl Ambulance took DNA swabs from the kids. Height, weight and other important identification information is also gathered–and when the process is finished, families have a complete packet to take home with them, including a CD with digital fingerprints and voice sample. Name, address, parents names, telephone, birth date, eye and hair color, race, and distinguishing features is also among the information gathered.
A statewide initiative by the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, the Masons KidsID Child Safety Program works closely with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
There are 12 specialized computer stations situated with Mason Lodges around the state, according to David Dumonceaux, of the Fergus Falls Masons. It is a substantial investment, noted Dumonceaux.
The program is recognized as one of the most comprehensive child identification programs in the nation.
“This is also fully endorsed by all the law enforcement agencies in the state of Minnesota,” added Dumonceaux.
Next year, the Masons plan to emphasize that parents should encourage college students to also register, said Dumonceaux. Late teens and young adults are also important, as reflected in recent, highly publicized incidents of missing college students.