Friends, Family of Missing BC Student: "There is Still Hope"
Local businesses from across the region have donated services for the search of missing Boston College student Franco Garcia and Garcia's friends have traveled to New York to try to get exposure on the Today Show.
Two weeks after Boston College student Franco Garcia went missing, family and friends refuse to give up the search.
"The message is that there is still hope," says Jennifer Bailey, who has recently joined the "Find Franco" efforts.
Over the last two weeks, countless volunteers from all over the area have come out to show support for the Garcia family by hanging flyers, posting information online, contacting media outlets and reaching out to local businesses.
According to Bailey, 15 local businesses have donated their services to the search for Garcia, with more donations likely on the way. Restaurants have donated food and copy shops have offered free flyers with information about Garcia.
The 21-year-old West Newton resident was last seen around 12:15 a.m. on Feb. 22 at Mary Ann's bar in Cleveland Circle. Since he has gone missing, there has been an extensive search effort in the Newton/Brighton/Brookline area including four days of scanning the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. He works at the Harvard Street CVS in Waltham.
Despite their efforts, police have not been able to find significant evidence indicating where Garcia may have gone or what may have happened to him.
The most recent development is that Garcia was caught on an ATM surveillance camera in Cleveland Circle. He walked by the ATM around 12:18 a.m. and appeared to be heading north on Chestnut Hill Avenue.
Bailey, who works in Newton Centre, was on her way home with a co-worker last week when she drove by the Garcia family standing at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. She spotted Garcia's mother, Luzmila, standing in the snow with a sign for her missing son.
"My co-worker and I looked at each other and wished there was something we could do," Bailey says.
Bailey tells Newton Patch she went to Dunkin' Donuts to get the family some hot coffee. Then, she started thinking about what else she could do to help.
In the last week, Bailey says she has reached out to businesses all over the area asking if they will help the family and the search effort. Almost every person she talks to jumps in without hesitation, she says.
Just yesterday, she called Fresh Copy in Jamaica Plain to see if they would be willing to print up flyers. Within 10 minutes, Bailey says the copy shop had 250 free flyers ready to go.
Ten minutes after that, someone was driving from East Boston to pick up the flyers.
"It's been a team effort by everyone. So many people are stepping up to the plate," Bailey tells Newton Patch. "It's truly touching."
Boloco in Cleveland Circle is another business that jumped on board to help. Bailey says she emailed the company on Friday, March 2 and before the end of the day, Boloco donated 20 gift cards for free meals.
According to Bailey, people have posted flyers from Waltham to Dedham, Watertown Square to Harvard Square. The effort, it seems, is growing by the hour.
Last week, students and friends set up an account for the family to support their search efforts. The "Find Franco" Fund has raised more than $2,300.
Bailey, who is active on the search's Facebook Page, says she has also been working with the family on other search efforts, but declined to comment specifically on what those events or efforts may be.
A list of the businesses who have donated so far include:
- Alpha Graphics of Waltham
- Arlington Lithograph
- Boloco of Brighton (Cleveland Circle)
- Eagle Print at Boston College
- Fed Ex of Brookline
- Fresh Copy of Jamaica Plain
- Johnny's Luncheonette, Newton Centre
- Newton Center Town Pizza
- Pino's Pizza at Cleveland Circle
- PROCARE restoration services
- Sandwich Works, Newton Centre
- Staples of Newton Centre
- Wings Xpress
Students head to the Today Show
Hoping the search will reach a national audience, Boston College students Rachel Reis, Katherine Corteselli and Cassie Estassi traveled to New York City on Wednesday to stand in the crowd on the Today Show.
The three girls made giant posters with Garcia's picture and information and stood outside in front of cameras during the show. A photo on the Franco Garcia Facebook group shows they managed to make it on camera at least once.
Meanwhile, efforts on the Facebook group have exploded. Documents have been created with theories as to what happened to Garcia as well as suggestions of how spread the word about his disappearance.
In an emailed quote to Newton Patch, Genoveva Tavera, acting crisis manager for the family and Luzmila and Jose Garcia's best friend of over 20 years (she has known Franco since he was 3-years old), thanked the entire community for their support.
"I am especially touched by the beautiful friends of Franco at Boston College. There is no minute that passes by that the kids don’t think about Franco. The entire family (cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews) in addition to the immediate family are desperately working to bring Franco home. Thank you all for your support," Tavera said.
Another "Walk for Franco" is scheduled for this Sunday at noon in Cleveland Circle. Last Sunday, a number of Garcia's family and friends walked around the reservoir and Cleveland Circle area with balloons and flyers.
Anyone with information about Garcia's disappearance is asked to contact Newton Police at 617-796-2100 or Massachusetts State Police at 617-727-4812.
Looking for more stories and updates on Franco Garcia? Check out this page with complete coverage.