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A toast to "Hope"

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Albany/HV: A toast to "Hope"
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The "Coasters for Hope" program in Capital Region bars and restaurants aims to bring closure to families of missing persons. YNN's Geoff Redick reports.

SARATOGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- You might think Nancy Hieber still counts the years.

"After that many years, not so much," she said with a sighing smile.

It's been 27 years and seven months since Hieber's daughter, then 14-year-old Tammie McCormick, went missing. Investigation has revealed that the young girl skipped school one day in April 1986 and hitched a ride towards Malta to be with friends. It's believed she was dropped off in that area. What happened after that is anyone's guess.

"We're hoping people saw who she hung around with that day or who she was with in addition to her friends," mentions Hieber.

It's a plea she's made numerous times before. But whereas pleas and posters were her only tools in the 1980s, now there's a new strategy to gain information.

"Coasters for Hope" is a program created by the Doug and Mary Lyall of the Center for Hope. Through it, 5,000 drink coasters have been printed and will be distributed to 31 bars and restaurants in the Capital Region. Each coaster carries the picture of one of seven people who've gone missing in the area.

The new initiative was aided and supported by State Assemblyman James Tedisco.

"It might not be the people who are looking at the coasters, but they may say something to a neighbor, who knows something from another neighbor," Tedisco said of the ambitions for the program. "It could be the smallest of leads that jogs somebody's memory."

The coasters are being funded, printed and handed out by the DeCrescente Distributing Company of Mechanicville. Each carries details about the person's disappearance and instructions on how to anonymously tip police.

"People of all ages go to a bar," noted Hieber, who attended a news conference in support of the program. "A bar is not just for the young and that's what we're looking for: People over 40 who may have seen something that day."

Assemblyman Tedisco wants to see "Coasters for Hope" expanded statewide and plans to urge fellow lawmakers to start similar programs in their own districts.

Perhaps on some night by closing time, someone, somewhere, can offer closure.

"It does give you hope that maybe they will be found," said Hieber. "We never give up on hope."

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