By Samantha Joseph
STUART - A group tasked with educating residents about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs is holding a memorial for victims of accidental overdoses.
The Martin County Narcotics Overdose Prevention Education Task Force, or NOPE, said accidental drug poisonings claim 28,000 lives each year across the nation.
To honor them, it's planned a candlelight vigil for 6 p.m. on Oct. 25 at Memorial Park in Stuart.
The event will also include stories aimed at teaching both children and adults "about the growing destructive forces of drug abuse that have hurt countless communities," said Lauren Espitia, of Tykes & Teens, one of the groups involved in the project.
Organizers will present stories of young people who died of drug poisoning, many from abusing and misusing prescription pills.
The evening will also include discussions by guest speakers, a moment of silence to remember victims and a performance by Martin County High School's choir, Outstanding People United to Sing. The vigil comes weeks after law enforcement officials held a drive to collect unwanted prescription drugs from residents.
The Martin County Sheriff's Office, Sewall's Point Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration invited residents to get rid of expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs by bringing them to collection sites at local Walgreens stores.
In four hours, officials collected 310 pounds of drugs, no questions asked.
"The removal and proper disposal of these medications reduces the risk of accidental poisoning, overdose, abuse, and damage to the environment," said Rhonda Irons, spokeswoman for the Martin County Sheriff's Office.
Officials turned over the drugs to the Drug Enforcement Administration for disposal.