BRIDGETON, N.J. — It’s been years since a New Jersey girl has been able to celebrate her birthday with her family.

Dulce Maria Alavez, who went missing on Sept. 16, 2019 during a family outing to Bridgeton City Park in Cumberland County, turns 8 on Monday. She disappeared while playing with her 3-year-old brother as their mother, Noema Alavez Perez, sat in her car with an 8-year-old relative. The girl’s brother ran to the car crying and pointed to the area where he last saw his sister.

The missing girl’s mother recently spoke to NewsNation.

“Because every April, me and my mom, we used to celebrate Dulce and Camila’s birthday, now we don’t celebrate none of the birthdays no more,” the mom said. “And it’s hard for us because Dulce isn’t here with us. She’s 8 right now. She’s turning 8. Yeah, it’s really hard to believe that she’s not here with us.”

In September of 2021, officials released a new age-progression image of the missing child.

“We hold out hope that Dulce is alive (as we have no evidence of her demise) and want the public to know that this case will remain open until such time as we locate Dulce and determine those responsible for her disappearance,” the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and NJ officials said in a joint statement.

Those with information that could assist in the investigation are still urged to contact the Bridgeton Police Department at 856-451-0033 or utilize the department’s anonymous TIP411 text line, subtext “Bridgeton.”