Saturday was Kids Safety Day at the new Laurie Hutto-Hill Allstate Insurance Agency, and parents who brought their children received a bio document containing private and critical information about their children to be used in case of extreme emergencies.
The agency is now the only place in North Texas where parents can obtain this bio document on a daily basis.
Hutto-Hill, the mother of one son, has always had concern for children’s well-being, and when she decided to open the agency in Van Alstyne, she searched for some way to be of help to parents. That search uncovered Operation KidSafe, a national nonprofit agency what provides parents with a digital photo and fingerprints of their children that can be used if any of those loved ones become lost.
Operation KidSafe has, during the 18 years since its creation, provided this critical information to parents of more than 1 million children. The fingerprints and portrait are taken on a computer, printed out on a single page, and handed over to the parent. No copies are made and nothing is retained or sent to a database, so parents don’t have to worry about hackers breaking into anything. Parents are encouraged to put the sheet of information in a safe and easy-to-reach location, so it can be taken out and given to law enforcement in case the child goes missing. They are also encouraged to add the child’s yearly school photo to the page.
Time is critical in such a case, and law enforcement’s access to this information can help in the battle against time.
“When there is the need for time-sensitive information, such as if there is a lost or missing child, that is also the time that parents are at their most stressed out,” Van Alstyne Police Chief Tim Barnes said. “Having this critical information in one area — one spot — can save valuable time.”
On Saturday, Hutto-Hill and her staff hosted an introduction to the program amid a myriad of activities for the children to enjoy. Those included a cornhole game, face-painting, hot dogs, ice cream, and other snacks for everyone, as well as a chance to climb onto a Van Alstyne fire truck and into a police car. Van Alstyne Dental and Nietling Optical were also on hand, as were deputies with the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office, to provide other activities and information.
Having their photos made and fingerprints taken was an adventure to the dozens of children who sat with Allstate agent Pam Burns to complete the process. They took their turns sitting in the chair next to Burns, listening intently and following her instructions, while their siblings and friends watched.
Hutto-Hill said the process is good information to have for the elderly as well, especially with those who are afflicted with dementia.
“The service is free and all the information remains private,” she said. “It’s important that people can have this for their children, at-risk adults or whomever they want to safeguard.”
Burns added that Operation KidSafe provided the computer, printer, camera and all other equipment necessary to the Allstate agency, and the agency will have the free service available any and every time its doors are open. All agents working with Hutto-Hill have received training and will be able to complete the process.
Anyone can take advantage of the free service any time at the Laurie Hutto-Hill Agency at 1274 West Van Alstyne Parkway, and can call 903-290-1570 for more information, including their hours of operation.