Volunteers Restore Precious Memories

If one picture is worth a thousand words, then there are millions of "thank-yous" in store for volunteers restoring pictures damaged by Katrina. Since January 2006, volunteers with Operation Photo Rescue have saved 2,000 images.  Friday in Biloxi, people brought their memories and their hopes.

Of everything Katrina took away, Sarah and Larry Voas say nothing was more painful than losing five generations of family photos.

"Absolutely overwhelming," said Voas. "The worst loss I could have ever experienced."

Operation Photo Rescue is giving Katrina victims reason to hope. Volunteers like Lauren Terry of Virginia take digital snapshots of the damaged photos, then give the originals back to the owners. Terry says she likes the old black and whites the most.

"It's amazing. It's emotional," said Terry. "It's just beautiful that we can help restore them and help them maintain their memories."

The captured images will go onto the Operation Photo Rescue website where volunteers from around the globe pitch in.

President and Co-Founder Dave Ellis said, "Our volunteers from around the world can go on Photo Shelter and look at the images we have available for restoration, pick the one they feel like they can best restore. They download it on their end, do restoration work, upload the restoration work back to Photo Shelter and we send it to a printer out in California that donated the prints."

Katrina victims say while they know every photo the hurricane touched can't be saved, they're grateful that someone cares enough to try.

Sarah Voas said, "I can't imagine a greater gift any group could give than to restore something that's priceless."

After the images are restored, the prints are shipped free of charge to Katrina victims.

Operation Photo Rescue continues this weekend at the Margaret Sherry Memorial Library in Biloxi from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.