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Woodmen offer child identification kits to Pike parents

Woodmen of the World Lodge 420 of Troy is offering a child identification kit to the parents of children in the Pike County area.

Parents are invited to bring their children to Wal-Mart between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday for fingerprinting and collection of DNA samples.

"Lodge 420 is providing this service free of charge to parents and children in our area," said Kim May, Woodmen field representative. "The children will be fingerprinted with kid-safe ink and a DNA sample taken."

May said DNA samples are taken with a cotton saliva swab.

"The fingerprints are taken on an identification card that also includes personal information about the child," May said. "The DNA sample can be attached to the card and the card should be kept in a secure place. The hope and prayer is that it will never be needed. But, if a tragedy should ever happen, the identification card would provided valuable information."

May said of the 840,279 missing persons reported to the police in 2001, the FBI estimates that 85 to 90 percent of them were juveniles.

"According to those figures, about 2,000 American children go missing each day," she said. "Each of us would like to think something like that would never happen to us. And, hopefully, it never will. But, an identification kit would become most important if anything that tragic did happen."

May said the kit immediately becomes the property of the parents, so no one else has access to the information.

"This is a service that the Woodmen are providing and we hope that parents will take advantage of this opportunity," May said. "There is no charge for either the fingerprinting or the DNA sample. It will only take a few minutes to get this potentially valuable information."

The Woodmen fingerprinting booth will be at the food entrance of Wal-Mart and parents are encouraged to bring their children for this service.