Amanda Casella Bringing Joy To Those Who Lost So Much In Sandy's Aftermath

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Since Hurricane Sandy tore through the area, a teenager from Staten Island has been finding pictures scattered all over. Now, she is trying to find their owners.

Amanda Casella, a 17-year-old high school senior from Tottenville, found hundreds of photos strewn throughout the woods in her neighborhood and said she wants to get them back to whoever they belong to.

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“I’m going through the thorn bushes and my friend had climbed a tree and got one that was stuck on a branch for me,” Casella told CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu.

Casella said she tries to clean up the photos she finds and puts them out on a poster board near the woods so neighbors can look through and find their keepsakes.

Veronica Petersen, whose house was nearly wiped out, said she couldn’t believe it.

“Amanda came to me and says ‘Are these some of your pictures?’ Every communion, my confirmation pictures, every birthday, every holiday — this little doll found them,” Petersen said.

Casella even found photos of her of 13-year-old friend, Angela Dresch, and her father, who both died in the hurricane.

“It was kind of heartbreaking,” Casella said.

Amanda Casella has collected hundreds of photos that were scattered about by Hurricane Sandy. (credit: CBS 2)

When word got around that Casella was collecting the photos, people started giving her pictures they had found and anything else they came across in the debris — from children’s toys to trophies. She was even able to reunite a little boy with his favorite uniform.

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“There was a baseball uniform that a boy claimed in a bag and a mitt and he took that. He was so excited,” Casella said.

But it’s the pictures that have been irreplaceable.

“This little old Russian lady had come by to one of the boards I put up and she started finding all her wedding pictures from like 40 years ago and she was crying and she was hugging us,” Casella said.

When the nor’easter hit this week, Casella brought everything home with her, piling it into her family’s garage.

“She’s very passionate about finding everyone and getting every photograph back to every family and letting them keep some memories they’ve lost in this storm,” said Casella’s mother, Cathleen.

Casella said she’ll hold onto the photos for as long as it takes.

Casella and her friends said they plan to put up signs around the area this weekend to let people know that pictures are at her house if they’d like to come claim them.

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