When a younger Menards coworker was living in substandard conditions earlier this year, Sydney Loofe helped him get on his feet.

She let him stay at her apartment in Lincoln, taught him to save money and helped him with hygiene until he found a place of his own. It was the third time Loofe, 24, had opened her home to someone in need, says Brooklyn McCrystal, a former coworker and one of Loofe's closest friends.

Another friend, Terra Gehrig, thought it was crazy.

But Loofe wanted to do something good: "Everybody needs help at some point in their life, and I feel as if I can help him,” she told Gehrig at the time.

Loofe's closest friends are clinging to positive memories three weeks after her Nov. 15 disappearance. On Monday, authorities found remains they believe to be hers in a rural part of Clay County in south-central Nebraska.

"It still just doesn’t feel like this is the world that we live in,” McCrystal said Thursday.

FBI spokesman Huston Pullen said the investigation into Loofe's death remained active and ongoing Thursday. Two persons of interest in the case remained in custody but hadn't been charged.

Pullen asked for the public's patience as the multi-agency task force searches for answers.

"We’re trying to do right by Sydney and her family,” he said.

A candlelight vigil is set for 5 p.m. Saturday at Sunken Gardens in Lincoln. And a memorial service is scheduled for Monday in Loofe's hometown of Neligh, at Grace Lutheran Church.

In lieu of flowers, her family asks memorials be sent to Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, one of Loofe's favorite places, said Jay Snider of Snider Memorial Funeral Home in Neligh. 

Loofe loved animals and the outdoors, had a vibrant personality, and often surprised friends with her compassion for others, they said.

Loofe could be shy at first, but when she opened up, her energy illuminated the room, McCrystal and Gehrig said.

"She had a way of making everyone feel very comfortable around her,” Gehrig said.

Loofe enjoyed relaxed hangouts with Gehrig and McCrystal, watching movies and TV shows, putting together puzzles and crafting. She was an avid angler, and McCrystal would tag along even though she never put a line in the water.

Friends knew they could count on Loofe when they needed her, they said. When McCrystal had late-night errands to run and needed company, Loofe tagged along.

"If she was out of town, she would hurry up to get back to be with us," Gehrig said.

When their friend was missing, McCrystal and Gehrig remained hopeful they would see her again.

They're thankful for the work law enforcement did to find her, and are glad she is now at peace.

Loofe sometimes didn't realize how many people cared for her, her friends said.

But nationwide support for Loofe and her loved ones, and diligence in the search for her in the last few weeks amazed Gehrig and McCrystal.

"She’s going to see how loved she is,” McCrystal said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.