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Group Collects Supplies, Food for Crews Searching for Hannah Graham

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The central Virginia community is stepping up to support police and search teams in their relentless effort to find missing University of Virginia second-year student Hannah Graham.  Help Save the Next Girl, the Northridge Community Church congregation, and the Greene County Sheriff's Office are collecting food and supplies to fuel the searchers.

Supporters of the Help Save the Next Girl nonprofit organization around Charlottesville are funneling the frustration of another disappearance into a community-wide call for donations to keep the searchers going strong.  Jo Robertson coordinated a social media campaign to collect supplies for searchers. “I put out a request for boot warmers and hand warmers, and within minutes - Bam!” she said.

Robertson says the effort started out of anger to see another young woman vanish. “I became very angry. I felt like this is enough for Charlottesville. I was tired of it.”

So Robertson - with support of the Help Save the Next Girl organization - gathered a group of mothers.  "We're not detectives - what can we do? I said, 'Why don't we start helping the police? Why don't we start feeding them?'" said Robertson.

Robertson says nearly 150 central Virginia businesses have chipped in to keep the searchers going. They've collected food, supplies, even treats for the K-9s.  “These are all people that have worked tirelessly the past month to help find Hannah,” she said. “They need to feel hope, too.”

A visit to the search headquarters this weekend to drop off supplies inspired Beth Powell of the Northridge Community Church. “I showed up at church yesterday morning and just put out a call to our congregation,” she stated.

Powell and her church are collecting donations and preparing meals to deliver to search teams Saturday. “It encourages them. It uplifts their spirits when they're feeling low, and that's what we're here to do - to help uplift and supp ort."

Robertson wants to help overcome the hurt the community feels for Graham. “It helps us take that negative energy that that murderer and predator has placed in our town, we're erasing it little by little,” she said.

Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo says the FBI's national academy class in Quantico has expressed interest in joining the search this weekend. That could mean hundreds of searchers to feed and supply.

You can find information on how to donate to the Northridge Community Church collection on the Greene County's Sheriff's Office Facebook page here.  You can also contact Steve Keene for more information at this number at 434-566-8774 or skeene@gcvasheriff.us

Help Save the Next Girl will be collecting donations at the National Guard armory in Charlottesville next weekend. Some of the items they are asking for include pre-packaged snacks, granola bars, hand-warmers, Gatorade and socks. For more information, click here.