The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

July 27, 2013

Lost Photos Facebook page helps reunite quilt, owner

JOPLIN, Mo. — Charlotte Duke said every quilt tells a story.

That being the case, the story told by the quilt that was reunited with Becca Alves on Saturday in Joplin could fill a novel.

Duke found the quilt in a tree soon after the 2011 tornado.

Duke is a member of the Town and Country Quilt Guild along with Carol Reed, and it was Reed — who also volunteers with the Lost Photos of Joplin Project — who had the idea of putting the quilt on the Lost Photos Facebook page.

Duke said she was just excited to get the quilt back to its original owner.

“I thought there was an outside chance that someone might recognize it from someone’s house,” Reed said. “Within an hour, we were in contact with the quilt’s original owner, who made a claim on it.”

Alves said that family members were quick to point out the quilt on Facebook.

“That photo was shared to us because our names were on the back and my husband’s relatives recognized it almost immediately,” Alves said. “After that it, was a quick phone call and a verification that we were the original owners.”

Alves said that her family lost in the tornado their home near 26th Street and Wall Avenue, which is almost a mile east of Duke’s house.

“You just become numb to losing things that you had, and you don’t expect to ever find anything that had any value, sentimental or otherwise,” Alves said. “It shows a lot of heart from the quilting community and from this Lost Photos organization. I’m just glad it found someone who knew that it wasn’t just another blanket.”

Alves said the quilt was a gift from her husband’s grandmother, who purchased it at a bed and breakfast in California.

The Lost Photos project has been an undertaking of the First Baptist Church in Carthage, where photos blown about by the tornado are cleaned, archived and made available to the public to be reclaimed. As recently as the end of February, photos were still being turned into the group.

To date, the project has returned 16,610 photos to their rightful owners, according to Donna Turner, who coordinates the claim day events. Saturday’s event returned photos to six families.

However, the group still has more than 20,000 photos collected after the tornado that have not been returned.

“This was a unique situation for us, and it is a coincidence we are happy to be a part of,” Turner said. “Because we are in this situation where we get in contact with so many other people, sometimes you get to reunite a family with more than just photos.”

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