|"The repair shop said that his hard drive had died and they were not able to save anything at all."|
That is hard to believe, are they an actual certified repair shop?
I would suggest to take it to another shop, tell them you want the info saved off the drive, you buy a new HD and ask them to install it with the XP OS. That might get pretty costly...you may even looking into buying another laptop and then just transfering all the files from your old drive to the new one.
That is not rocket science. You can remove the HD out of the older laptop and use either a USB transfer cable or a USB caddy to transfer your files and pics onto the new laptop.
Here is a How-To to help you find those items:
Some HELP in posting on Computing.net plus free progs and instructions Cheers