There inside an old schoolhouse in Bethesda, south of Rock Hill, are teddy bears, dirty and torn. Two bowling balls, muddy. The balls weigh 12 pounds apiece.
There is a handmade baby blanket, Christmas ornaments, cracked and dirty, and invoices for such stuff as a toaster oven bought in the 1990s. A wedding dress.
And hundreds of pictures. Pictures of babies, of toddlers, of adolescents. Of wedding days and parties and barbecues. Of bald heads and mullets, frizzy hair from the 1980s.
A Bible, the binding gone, open to a dirty page that reads, "I shall not want."
All of it blown away by the 125 mph winds of the Nov. 16 tornado that destroyed eight homes and damaged 20 more.
Miles away from the tornado scene, after the storm devastated a stretch two miles long and 200 yards wide, with all those homes destroyed or damaged, people who did not lose some or all of their world in the storm found pictures of little kids on bicycles - and bicycles.
They found old phone bills and wedding invitations from 30-plus years ago, scrapbook pictures of lean and rangy faces from teen years faded into memory or of those who are dead.
They found - and did not leave in the mud - clothes and tattered curtains, dolls and toys, pieces of lives lost.
Now, the emergency officials who have collected all these mementos of lifetimes sucked into a raging sky want people to come Thursday to the Bethesda Volunteer Fire Department's main station and collect bits and pieces of what was lost.
The York County Coroner's Office has been able to return some things to families of the three people who died in the storm, but the storm destroyed homes of many people who did not die. Items from those homes were hurled miles away, too.
"These are the things of people's lives, the kind of things that cannot be replaced," said Coroner Sabrina Gast. "Pictures and things that are specific to a family. It is their memories.
"These are lives in here."
From 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, anyone who lost items in the storm is asked to come to the little old schoolhouse behind the Bethesda main station at 1705 S.C. 324 and reclaim a little bit of what was lost.
Lashanda Davis and her mother, who found a picture of a stranger, took it to Bethesda. They drove dozens of miles to see that the family in the picture got it back - for the sole reason that people had lost so much in a tornado.
Earl White, another stranger, found bills and pictures and returned them. Still more people - dozens and dozens of them, hundreds even - found things such as canceled checks, recipes - the small things that make up a life - and acted.
The storm was so powerful, personal items were found in a swath from Newport northwest of Rock Hill, through Rock Hill to downtown and areas east of the city - as far away as Rivergate and Ballantyne, more than 20 miles away in North Carolina.
Volunteers from Oakdale Volunteer Fire Department, along with Bethesda and Lesslie volunteers, members of the Rock Hill Rescue Squad and many other agencies, assisted victims immediately after the storm.
Bethesda's volunteers agreed the next day to man the station to accept and catalogue items so they could be returned to people who lost whatever was picked up and sent skyward before returning to the dirt and mud somewhere else.
"It needed to be done for these people who lost everything," said Amber Mills of the Bethesda ladies auxiliary.
Her husband, Capt. Tim Mills of the fire department, a bus mechanic by trade who helped pull survivors from the tornado wreckage Nov. 16, said simply: "Our duty is to help people when terrible stuff happens."
Volunteers cared enough to hold what was found, after real people cared enough to bring it in.
"There is always a place, always time, to do the right thing for people," said Capt. Joshua Coggins, a Bethesda volunteer.
Albert "Jabo" Ferrell, whose house at the corner of S.C. 324 and Skyline Road was destroyed with his wife and him inside - they miraculously survived with minor scrapes and cuts - said the items returned so far have great value to his family.
In that old schoolhouse are pictures strangers found, of Ferrell and his wife - pictures found 11 miles away. There are business papers, found a dozen miles away in another spot. All parts of his 80 years of living in that house.
"So many people have done a great thing here - look out for others," Ferrell said. "Some things, I know we won't ever find. Papers sent miles away. But what we have found, we are thankful for the kindness."
The incredible outpouring of caring by strangers who scoured fields and streets and woods to find the items stunned even the county Emergency Management office, as dozens of people brought items to that office before all was eventually collected at Bethesda.
No one expected so many items to be returned.
"We plan for storms, we plan the response, but what has happened here is not part of any emergency plan," said Cotton Howell, emergency management director. "This is the human factor. People cared enough to find something and drop it off so that a person they probably will never meet can get it back.
"That's what communities like ours are all about. This is not in any plan, but it is great."
Looking for something?
Anyone who lost items in the Nov. 16 tornado is asked to come by the Bethesda Volunteer Fire Department, 1705 S.C. 324, from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday. For information, call the York County Coroner's Office at 803-909-8400.