|Sarabeth and me Christmas Eve.|
When Sarabeth went missing at 6:30 Wednesday, it was only a few hours before the call for help went out and the Roanoke Valley coalesced as a single unit, searching for her in the ways each person knew how to do. Mostly that meant verbal support for the Hammond family. Mom Caroline LaRocca Hammond, who owns and operates Caroline LaRocca Event Design, is well known in the Valley and has a vast network of personal and business friends who are genuinely that: friends--and not associates.
Sarabeth's last reported contact was via phone with her mom, saying she was on the way home to change clothes, following dropping off her friend.
There has been an outpouring of offers to help, and the news media--save for the local daily paper, which didn't seem to have a reporter available--has been all over the story with up-to-date information.
This small, regional blog set a single-day record for hits and its average for a month is sitting near 70,000 now, also a record. I have seen but one negative comment among hundreds (a guy I immediately sent to the wood shed) and the warmth and grace of the others has made this Christmas season real for me.
People like Kim Leigh Martin, who runs the impressive Missing Pieces Network (with as many as 2.5 million visitors at a time) out of Roanoke and her Facebook page Help Find Sarabeth, have been immediately and impressively responsive. Websleuths has responded, as have The Aware Foundation, Google News, Find Sarabeth, Kate Steinbacher's Meal Train, and a number of others actively searching and reporting.
I'm one of those who feels like Sarabeth is family and I love that little girl a great deal. She has meant a lot to me in the months I have known her and become part of her family. I think we have taught each other a lot, so this is painful. The pain Caroline is undergoing at the moment, of course, is unimaginable to me.
Let's hang together with this and find this bright, funny, creative, brave young girl and bring her back into the warmth she needs and deserves.