MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Law enforcement, administrators and community advocates came together in Merced Thursday to launch a campaign to combat the fentanyl crisis.
One whiff, a sniff or a touch can be deadly when it comes to fentanyl. That's why The Merced County Office of Education and the Merced County District Attorney's Office are now coming together to teach children: "One pill will kill."
"We're hitting the ground running on three different fronts, billboards so that people will see them when they're driving," said Merced County District Attorney Nicole Silveira.
As well as their public service announcement.
"A commercial competition for them to create their own fentanyl awareness commercial and doing interactive assemblies with them," said Silveira.
One child impacted by the fentanyl crisis in the Central Valley is Frankie DePrima.
"He was 20, had the most beautiful smile, just funny and had a great laugh, so I miss him every single day," said Elaine Hudson, who lost her son to fentanyl.
Hudson says it was April 17, 2020, when she opened up Frankie's bedroom door and found him dead.
"Only the pill that Frankie got had fentanyl, and like I said, one pill can kill. It's like playing Russian roulette," said Hudson.
Since then, Hudson's mission has been to provide knowledge to the community through her son's story, and she says through Fresno County's recent campaign, Frankie's face serves as a reminder of the dangers of the drug.
"I truly believe that those billboards had a huge impact in Fresno," said Hudson.
And she thinks Merced's campaign will do the same.
"We're trying to hit this on every front," said Silveira.
Silveira says that when law enforcement seizes drugs from dealers, 15 percent goes to the agencies involved, and that's how they're funding the campaign.
"We're taking that money from the drug dealers and using it against them to warn the public about the dangers of it," said Silveira.
Hudson adds that education is key.
"We have to continue making everyone aware of fentanyl because we're losing thousands of individuals daily, and if we don't, it's just going to get worse," said Hudson.
The Merced County Office of Education is holding a contest giving kids and teens the chance to create a fentanyl awareness commercial.
The winner will get professional help with the commercial and $5,000 for their school's anti-drug or anti-gang program.
The deadline to enter is October 13.
To submit your entry, click here.