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story.lead_photo.caption Marianne Asher-Chapman talks about some of the more than 200 missing and deceased people she has honored with personalized ornaments on her Christmas tree this year. The Holts Summit resident founded Missouri Missing, an organization that creates a voice for missing people and a support network for their loved ones. Photo by Gerry Tritz / News Tribune.

Marianne Asher-Chapman's Holts Summit living room now contains two Christmas trees, thanks to her Christmas tradition of honoring missing people — a program that's increased through national attention.

Asher-Chapman is a founder of Missouri Missing, a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving missing people a voice and establishing a support network for their families and friends.

Asher-Chapman's daughter, Angie Yarnell, disappeared in 2003. She made flyers, rented billboards and did everything she could to spread the word about the case. From this, she began the missing persons advocacy group in 2007 to help families in their searches and to memorialize those who were never able to return to loved ones.

Six years ago, she started a simple program called Christmas Trees of Love and Hope. Each year, she takes the names of people who are missing or deceased and writes them on a "cookie" ornament, which she then places on her living room Christmas tree.

She decided to use ornaments as a way to remember people because it meant so much to her when her own children made ornaments for her at school.

"I have Christmas ornament that my son and daughter each made in 1980 in school. They are really truly my material life's most prized possessions," she said.

She hand-makes the ornaments, which look like sugar cookies but don't contain sugar, then she bakes and decorates them.

"They're not great works of art, but they're labors of love," she said.

The program has grown each year. This year, with more than 200 names, she has had to expand to two trees. "They're practically on top of each other on the trees," she said.

She hasn't just had requests from Missouri to honor people. Requests come from across the nation, and she honors each one.

The trees contain mostly names of missing people, but some people use the program to honor loved ones who have died.

One name added this year was Tommy Chapman, Asher-Chapman's husband, who died in October.

The smaller tree is reserved mostly for children and the larger one mostly for adults.

"It's sad, but it's a feel-good thing as well," she said of the program. "I know it might help lift their spirits a little bit. Everybody's running around and talking about how joyous (the season) is. Well, it's not all joyous for all families. Believe me, they notice that empty chair at the table."

Asher-Chapman said she likely will take down her trees on New Year's Day. However, until then, anyone is welcome to provide her with the name of someone who is missing or deceased, and she will put an ornament with their name on one of her trees.

Find Missouri Missing at missourimissing.org, on Facebook at facebook.com/MissouriMissing/ or on Twitter at @Missourimissing.

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