LA PORTE CITY – Messages in crayon line the walls inside La Porte City’s fire station.
“Thanks for looking for Jake,” reads one bearing a colored badge. Others include fire trucks and assorted emergency vehicles, and they contain similar sentiments.
The artwork from first- through third-grade students at La Porte City Elementary School is a thank you to the volunteers, professional searchers and investigators who have spent the past week looking for 16-year-old Jake Wilson.
“It’s good to see these things,” said Police Chief Chris Brecher. “It’s the little things like this that boost our morale.”
The city’s fire station continues serve as base of operations for efforts to find the missing autistic teen, who was last seen the night of April 7. Fire trucks have been removed from the station’s equipment bay to make way for tables and chairs and a makeshift kitchen were search crews can rest between assignments. The fire station’s office had become the nerve center, with computers and maps.
While organizers called off volunteer ground searches Thursday in favor of trained searchers, Brecher said community members are still finding ways to help out, and one of the most noticeable contributions has been food.
On a folding table in the bay Friday, women offered goulash made from 10 pounds of hamburger someone had donated. Also on the table was pizza, vegetables, granola bars and other snacks.
“It’s just incredible how much food as come in,” said Colleen Schulz. A list on the fire station fridge notes businesses that have donated.
Early in the search, the American Red Cross coordinated meals and actually went for two days using only donated food. That included one day when 1,400 meals — breakfast, lunch and dinner — were served. The Red Cross has since left, and resident volunteers have taken over the task.