When a plaque that served as a memorial for her late husband went missing from Mantoloking during Hurricane Sandy's wrath, Lori Juliano-Slack said her heart was broken.
About two months later, it was spotted about 5 miles away in Lavallette, stuck in the sand and leaning against a home. Shannon Swift, who runs the Hurricane Sandy's Lost Treasures Facebook page along with Holly Sprick, posted a photo to the social networking page.
"Within a day a friend of the owners wrote us to tell us who it belonged to," Swift said. Arrangements were made, and the plaque was back with the family.
"It means the world to my son and I to have it. I am not sure how to express my gratitude to you," Juliano-Slack wrote on the page. Her "treasure" is among the about 150 that Swift and Sprick have help reunite with their owners.
The pair founded the page on Nov. 11 after seeing the devastation Sandy left behind.
"We grew up being on the island all the time," said Swift, who lives in Toms River; Sprick lives in Franklin but has a summer home in Seaside Park that was flooded by Sandy.
Inspiration for the page came when Sprick saw a Facebook post that a sign belonging to her Seaside Park neighbor was found in Brick, at least 7 miles away.
"We realized how far things might have traveled from the storm," Swift said. "We saw many people who lost so much and know that even the smallest memento could mean everything to someone."
These items include photos, memorial plaques, letters and even bigger items like a boat. Pictures of found or missing items are posted daily, as are ideas their origins.
About 375 found items are currently posted to the Facebook page, and another 100 residents searching for lost goods have asked there for help, Swift said.
With over 3,300 followers, Swift said that postings to the page — which commonly are shared among users' friends — can garner a response "within as little as a minute after the photo posts."
The community effort appears to be catching on. Swift and Sprick are involved in cleanups and post photos of personal items found during those efforts.