Help needed for charity photo event in Maple Ridge

Help-Portrait returns for ninth year, and organizers are hunting for volunteers

For the ninth year running, a number of people in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are coming together to help provide free, framed professional portraits to people in need in the community.

This year’s event is on Saturday, Dec. 7, from 1 to 8 p.m. at Golden Ears United Church, and organizers need help making it happen, explained the founder and coordinator Brenda Norrie.

She’s specifically looking for a few professional stylists, makeup artists, and even a few photographers to help on the day, Norrie elaborated.

Each year, the team of Help Portrait volunteers serve about 250 people from Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, providing professional quality family photos. Last year there were as many as 270 people.

Help-Portrait is a global movement of volunteers using their time, tools, and expertise to give back to those in need. The global initiative started in 2008, and is now offered in 67 countries on the one day a year.

In just over a month, the local team of about 50 volunteers will once again be kicking into action – and that’s where she’s needing the specific help of pros – especially volunteer photo editors, hair stylists, and makeup artists.

PAST COVERAGE: Hundreds turn out to Help Portrait Ridge Meadows

In addition to all the in-kind gifts the local organization receives, cash donations are also accepted. That money will help pay for printing, ink, frames, hair and makeup supplies, craft activities for kids, food and beverages, and more, Norrie explained.

“Even if someone can donate $20 or $25, it goes a long ways to making this all possible,” she said, noting that donations can be made on their website.

With the local Help Portrait’s current set up at the church, she said they can facilitate upwards of 400 people on the day, and she invites more people to come out and participate.

It’s not a program just for the less fortunate in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge. It’s also for those who just can’t afford to get portraits shot, Norrie said.

Many families struggle to make ends meet. They wouldn’t classify themselves as desperate or necessarily low income. But they might not have the extra money for “luxuries” such as portraits, she said.

When things are tight, “things like family photos goes by the way side,” Norrie elaborated. “So this is to serve people like that.”

Admittedly, she said, some of the stories she hears on the actual day choke her up emotionally.

In 2017, for instance, a new Syrian refugee family came to get their portrait taken. Never before did they have individual pictures taken of the kids (ie. school pictures), nor had they ever taken a family portrait.

They were so moved and grateful for Help Portrait that Dad and a few of the boys returned in 2018, this time to volunteer.

“It still makes me teary,” Norrie said, recalling how meaningful they said the experience was for them.

To sign up as a volunteer or recipient, or to learn more, people can visit helpportraitridgemeadows.com. She noted that people don’t have to “qualify” or “apply” for this free community service.

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