Extra security

MARSHALL – Area residents were taking in Crazy Days in downtown Marshall on Thursday, whether by shopping the sidewalk sales at Main Street businesses, enjoying the food or taking a spin on an amusement ride plugging the Lyon County Fair. But among all the fun activities, many families with children were also taking time for something more serious.

The KidsID program, which gathers identifying information parents can use to help find their child in an emergency, returned to Crazy Days this year. Volunteers staffing the event said a good number of families had been through by mid-morning on Thursday.

“The whole gist is education, and providing identification information,” said Doug Pamp, a member of the Tracy Masonic Lodge, and southwest area deputy for the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. KidsID is a program supported by the Grand Masonic Lodge of Minnesota. Area Masons and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans partnered up to bring the I.D. kit technology to Marshall, at no cost to participating families.

“It’s our way of giving back to the community,” said David Edens, of the Marshall Masonic Lodge.

KidsID collects children’s basic identifying information like height and weight, as well as taking fingerprints, voice recordings and DNA samples from a cheek swab.

“It’s Amber Alert-ready. That’s kind of the cool thing,” Doug Pamp said of the process.

The information is collected in a packet that a child’s parent or legal guardian can keep safe. None of the information is kept by KidsID, Pamp said. the KidsID program also works with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s “Take 25” educational program.

“We’re trying to educate kids and parents,” on safety and what to do if a child is lost or abducted, Edens said.

At tables set up in the Marshall municipal building on Thursday, kids like Caden Hess were having their fingerprints scanned by special equipment. Caden pressed one of his fingertips on the scanner, and watched intently as the fingerprint appeared on a computer screen.

“They got something off my hands,” he told his mom, Erica Hess.

Hess said she and sons Caden and Ethan were enjoying Crazy Days when Edens suggested they check out KidsID. It sounded like a good idea, Hess said.

“It’s just the security of it, if anything would happen,” she said.

Pamp and Edens said public response to the program has been strong in southwest Minnesota. Last year, more than 250 area children had their I.D. materials made. Edens said parents especially have been thankful for the opportunity to help protect their kids.

“I think the smaller rural communities really appreciate the effort,” Pamp agreed. “They see the value there.”

Pamp said KidsID will also be coming to the Sounds of Summer festival in August and to Lakeview School in the fall.