OCILLA -- The search for Tara Grinstead continues, and the Find Tara Command Center is in desperate need of volunteers to search and pass out flyers.
Grinstead, 31, of Ocilla, was last seen Oct. 22. Area residents have spent untold hours searching for the missing Irwin County High School history teacher, and have turned a senior citizens center into a headquarters for the search, the Find Tara Command Center. The residents have also raised a $90,000 reward for her safe return.
The story of the missing teacher has attracted national media attention, including CNN's Nancy Grace and America's Most Wanted. The searchers want people across the nation to hear about Grinstead in the hope that someone, somewhere, has seen her.
"We don't need just searchers," said Susan Oakley of the command center. "We need volunteers to pass out flyers."
She said that particularly people who are leaving the state should pick up flyers and take them with them as they leave for the holidays. She said that it would also be a great help if volunteers would distribute flyers as they shopped for Christmas and that if someone wants flyers, the command center will make sure that the people get them.
"Leg work," Oakley said. "We need that more than anything."
Volunteer searchers are still needed as well. Although a blanket search of Irwin County was performed earlier this month, searchers are still going out in teams to try to find anything that might have been missed.
"Any volunteering is worth its weight in gold to us," Oakley said.
The Irwin County Sheriff's Department has brought in a professional search team to help in the endeavor. Texas Equusearch, a mounted search and recovery team, has joined the search. The team also helped during the search for Natalee Holloway, the Alabama woman who went missing on the island of Aruba earlier this year.
But the bulk of the search remains with the volunteers. Organized searches are planned for Saturday and Sunday.
"We are desperately in need of help during the holidays," Oakley said.
Anyone interested in volunteering can call the command center at (229) 468-0667 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Grinstead was last seen at about 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, at a barbecue in Ocilla. She had also helped contestants with their makeup for the Miss Sweet Potato pageant in Fitzgerald.
Neighbors did not notice anyone home the following day and investigated when there were still no signs of anyone being home Monday morning. After her home was found vacant and she did not report to school, police were informed and a search for the missing teacher began.
Grinstead is a white woman, about five-feet, three-inches tall, weighing about 115 pounds. She has brown hair and eyes.
Anyone with information on her disappearance should call her family's anonymous tip line at (912) 386-2564 or the Ocilla Police Department at (229) 468-7494 or its tip line at (229) 468-TIPS (8477).
To contact reporter Dusty Vassey, call 382-4321, ext. 208.
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