GARLAND (CBS11) – Cita Sue Cox knows the stack of pictures and papers in front of her mean something to someone.
“We’ve just been digging through it and discovering what all it is,” she said. “I mean, look! We found a marriage certificate.”
She’s a volunteer with the National Disaster Photo Rescue, an organization dedicated to reuniting sentimental items with their rightful owners.
It’s asking people who find photographs, private papers, or sentimental belongings to bring them to one of five collection sites:
Granger Rec Center
1310 W. Avenue F, Garland
Garland Fire Department, Station #5
5626 Lyons Road, Garland
Life Message Community Mission
4501 Rowlett Rd, Rowlett
Church in the City
6005 Dalrock Rd, Rowlett
Farmersville Police Department
134 N Washington Street, Farmersville
The group first formed from a Missouri church’s efforts to help victims of the Joplin tornado.
“We began to realize the one thing that brought us together are our pictures,” said Thad Beeler, the ministry outreach director.
Volunteers have now responded to at least six different disasters, including last year’s tornado in Van, Texas. They collect, organize, clean, and do a high-resolution scan of every picture found.
“You begin to see yourself and your family. And you say, that looks my aunt or that looks like my grandfather. Or I have a picture like that,” said Beeler.
The experience, he says, helps connect volunteers with victims.
“You can place yourself in those photographs with them and realize, hey, it could have been me,” said Beeler.
The entire process takes weeks, after which pictures are posted on Facebook and reunions begin.
If you’ve lost items in the tornado, you can find items collected here, once they become available.
(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)