WESTMINSTER, Colo. -- The search for Jessica Ridgeway triggered a massive and unprecedented wave of community compassion on Saturday.
Hundreds of volunteers spent hours in the cold looking for the little girl.
“We want to get you on the buses and searching as quickly and as seamless as we can,” said Westminster Police investigator Trevor Materasso.
The search started with 250 volunteers, but that number quickly doubled to 500. They were mostly strangers, with a common goal and common feelings.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about it last night, I couldn’t really sleep,” said volunteer Geoff Anstead, who is the father of two daughters, one Ridgeway’s age.
Volunteers are pitching in to find a 10-year-old who vanished walking to school Friday morning.
“It’s about a kid. We all have kids. We’re all going to pitch in,” said Sophia Trujillo, a volunteer who was waiting with her husband and son to board a bus to take them to the search area.
“Anything we can do to help solve the puzzle, help find her, and bring her home safe,” Cody Adderley said.
Buses loaded up 50 people in each, and headed out on a cold, dreary day. They searched miles of open space, athletic fields and streets.
“It’s cold. I’m sure she’s scared. My son would be if it was him,” said one volunteer whose voice cracked with emotion. She didn’t want to give her name.
The search boundaries started around 88th Ave. to 112th and Wadsworth to Alkire. But those areas were likely to expand.
“We want to make sure every inch of ground is covered out here,” said volunteer Bob Nelson.
They also searched their hearts for answers, as to why this happened. Some now question the safety of their own streets.
“It’s going to change the community. You let your kids run and play through here. It’s going to change that,” says Pence.
Four Jefferson County buses made 26 trips in their searches. Each time the buses were full, and some took repeated rides to help.
Many businesses also donated food and services to help feed volunteers. Domino’s, Panera, Starbucks and McDonald’s all pitched in to help. Home Depot donated 500 color copies of Ridgeway’s picture to be passed around the community.
Westminster Police were still calculating if they needed volunteers to help them on Sunday.