The First Baptist Church in Carthage is working to return photos to Joplin’s tornado victims. Some of those photos are coming from as far as 200 miles away.

Thad Beeler’s parents live just west of St. John’s hospital in Joplin, the icon of devastation seen the world over. He says as the music minister at First Baptist Church in Carthage, ten miles away, he felt the need to help people get their memories back. He says the project took off from there.

Some of the tornado victims receiving them are happy, he says, others are sad. But he says a church is prepared to deal with emotionally heavy situations — from birth to death — and so it’s the right place to handle the project with respect and care. 

The church has collected about 12,000 photographs, which he says volunteers are cleaning and documenting. He says anyone wanting any information on getting found photos back or finding ones they’ve lost should visit

Beeler says some of the photos are coming from as far as 200 miles away. In addition to photographs, the church is taking personal documents, yearbooks, diplomas, IDs, and bibles, taking care to respectfully track down their owners.

AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports [Mp3, 1:20 min.]