MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – The family of Heather Elvis marked her birthday on Tuesday by giving back to an organization that helped search for her.
Elvis was from Socastee. She disappeared at age 20 in December of 2013. Tuesday would have been her 22nd birthday.
“I would just love to be able to put my arms around her and say, ‘I love you,’” commented her mother Debbi.
As she and Heather’s younger sister Morgan talked about their loss, it was clear the pain of losing Heather is still raw. Those emotions can be especially exposed on holidays or special days such as Heather’s birthday.
“You don’t want to sit around all day doing nothing,” her mother said. “You don’t want the day to mean nothing. So we wanted to make the day memorable – to make the day mean something.”
So the Elvis family decided to spend the day reminding people about Heather’s case and the work the CUE (Community United Effort) Center for Missing Persons has done on it. The center organized search parties for Heather and has provided lots of support to her family. CUE Center workers have often acted as intermediaries and a support system for the Elvis family.
“They’ve been here from day one searching for Heather,” Debbi Elvis said.
So in honor of Heather and the CUE Center, the Elvis family asked for donations to the center – donations that will pay for future searches for Heather and dozens of others. CUE uses those donations to buy supplies for searches. Those supplies include food and water for volunteers and search dogs. Sometimes expert searchers are given a stipend to travel to and participate in a search.
“[We want people] to get on their website and hit that donate button,” Debbie Elvis
As part of their effort, Heather’s family hosted a gathering at the Peachtree boat landing on Tuesday night. They wanted to give people an opportunity to give in-person to the CUE Center or also see how they can get involved. They had a time for prayer.
“We don’t really have a place to grieve – a place to go to remember. That [landing is] really the only place,” Debbie Elvis said. “I’m very grateful to the community for making it beautiful like they did. So now we have a beautiful place to go and pray for Heather and pray that we find her and find what happened.”
Morgan Elvis said doing something to highlight CUE helped distract her family from the pain of losing Heather. She said they were happy to give back.
“By taking a progressive and proactive action and donating and helping out with someone who’s helped us, it’s a way for us to feel like we’re doing something – that we’re not just sitting at home and missing her,” Morgan Elvis said. “We are pulling together with our community and with CUE, and we’re being proactive.”
Tuesday’s effort for CUE also marked the beginning of a new initiative the Morgan is working on. It is called HELPP, which stands for Hope, Encouragement, Love, Purpose and Perseverance. She hopes it will be a way to help other people during times of tragedy.
The boat landing where the Elvis family gathered Tuesday night is significant because it is where Heather’s car was found. Two people are now charge in her murder, but Heather’s body has never been found. A trial date has not been set.