With the stress of travel, Thanksgiving dinner prep and even Black Friday sales (as well as Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday deals), it can be easy to lose track of the most important part of the holiday season—spending time with family. Unfortunately, there are many individuals who simply don’t have that luxury because their relatives can’t be with them. Not because of a scheduling conflict or illness, but because they are gone… vanished… missing. 

Not knowing the whereabouts of a loved one is unsettling under any circumstances but those feelings of loss, confusion and frustration can be amplified tenfold during the holidays. This is the reality for countless families within the Black community, where the FBI reported 239,593 cases of minorities who went missing last year alone. 

“Many of us will gather with family and friends to celebrate the holiday season and long-held traditions, but for some families in our communities, the holiday season will not be as merry because of the uncertainty of a missing loved one,” says Natalie Wilson, co-founder of Black And Missing Foundation, Inc. [BAMFI]. “As you can imagine, the pain of not knowing their whereabouts is unbearable.” 

Wilson and her sister, Derrica, founded BAMFI back in 2008 in response to the countless Black families who felt neglected by mainstream media when it came to getting the word out about their missing loved ones. Today the non-profit serves as a much-needed resource, support system for families and a constant reminder that Black lives matter. 

“At BAMFI, we believe that every missing person deserves to be found,” says Wilson. “Every loved one of a missing person deserves answers or closure. But we can only do so much—it will take all of us, law enforcement, media and our communities, working together. We can no longer bury our head in the sand and say our missing do not matter.”

Recognizing the importance of that message, ESSENCE has chosen to support BAMFI’s “Bring Our Missing Home for the Holidays” campaign by highlighting a different missing woman of color each week for the remainder of the year. The hope is that someone somewhere has information that can help reunite our missing brothers and sisters with their families. #HelpUsFindUs

Click here to lend your support to BAMFI and to stay abreast of new and ongoing cases, follow them on Twitter @BAM_FI, Instagram @BlackAndMissingFDN, and Facebook.