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MONTEZUMA, Iowa — Eleven-year-old Xavior Harrelson has not been seen since May 27, but people in his hometown of Montezuma are refusing to lose hope.

“Please just get him home, we just want him home safe,” said Harrelson’s aunt, Michelle Harrelson. “All it takes is one person to see him and call it in, and he can be home.”

Dozens of people gathered at Montezuma High School’s football field Sunday to pray for Xavior’s return. That included his mother, who had not made any public appearances since her son’s disappearance.

“It’s not something where you think it could happen to your family until it does,” Michelle Harrelson said. “It hurts.”

“I want to give them some hope and let them know that we’ve got their back,” said Diane Hoffman, who organized Sunday’s event. “We’re here for them.”

The family also took time during the event to question why an Amber Alert was not issued the day Xavior went missing, even going as far as starting a petition to change the Amber Alert system.

“He’s scared of the dark, he’d never go anywhere by himself,” Michelle Harrelson said. “It was really hard for us as a family to understand why there still wasn’t an Amber Alert.”

The Division of Criminal Investigation, who are still treating Xavior’s situation as a missing persons case rather than a criminal act, previously explained its decision three days after his disappearance.

“An Amber Alert is meant more for a criminal abduction, and we just don’t have information one way or another that fits within the criteria of Amber Alert at this time,” said Mitch Mortvedt of the Division of Criminal Investigation at the time.

Even without the Amber Alert, Xavior Harrelson’s loved ones remain optimistic he will come home soon.

“This search effort is like another family he now has,” Michelle Harrelson said. “We just want him home safe.”

Xavior Harrelson is 4’9″ and 100 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. If you have any information, call 911 or the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office at 641-623-2107, or submit it through this FBI online tip sheet. A reward for information has surpassed $40,000.