They didn't know each other, but the disappearances of Amber McFarland and Jennifer Catcheway have united two families and the community of Portage la Prairie.

On Saturday nearly 1500 people came together in what is being called the largest search in Manitoba history.

"I have a daughter that's almost their age, and if it was me I'd want everybody helping too," one searcher told CTV News.

McFarland was last seen in Portage la Prairie in the early hours of Oct. 18, and was reported missing the next day after she didn't show up for a shift at a local Mark's Work Wearhouse.

Catcheway was last seen June 19, around the time of her 18th birthday. Police received tips from the public and in July made two arrests in connection with her disappearance, but later released both suspects without laying charges against them.

Since Oct. 23, the Manitoba Search and Rescue Association (MSRA) has organized search efforts throughout an area within 16 km of Portage la Prairie.

Search organizer George Leonard said searchers are looking for any clues that they can link to the missing women.

"As far as we know, we've found evidence and articles that we believe (are pertinent to the investigation), but we have to forward them to the RCMP to find out if any of that is valid," Leonard said.

But even as the search for the two women grows, family members recognize it may be becoming more of a recovery effort.

Volunteers have already drained the Portage Diversion, and on Saturday team members and bus loads of volunteers began searching a local landfill.

"I want to find her, but not in a dump," Jennifer's mother, Bernice Catcheway, said.

"We're hoping for the best -- to have her home," Lori McFarland, Amber's mother, said. "But if we can't have the ultimate, we'll have her home however we can."

The MSRA intends to continue searching with a large number of volunteers on Sunday, and then they will "reassess" their plans, Leonard said.

"We don't quit, we've never quit," he said. "Tomorrow will be our last major search and then we'll go back to where we'll do our small searches, then once we have information we might hold another large search."

Anyone wishing to volunteer in the search is asked to meet at the Alliance Church on Saskatchewan Avuene Sunday at 10:00 a.m.

Anyone with information about either woman is asked to call Portage la Prairie RCMP at 204-857-4445 or to call Manitoba Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

With a report from CTV's Stacey Ashley.