Members of the refugee family from Syria had their portraits taken at the 7th annual Help Portrait Ridge Meadows. (Contributed)

Help Portrait helps hundreds in Maple Ridge

Free family portraits were handed out to people who couldn’t otherwise afford to have one taken.

Help Portrait again helped more than 200 people this year, giving them free holiday portraits.

The annual event brings photographers, editors, hair stylists and makeup artists together for an afternoon of free portrait sessions for those who may not otherwise be able to afford to have a professional photograph taken.

This year, 227 people were served at the event. Four portrait studios were set up at Golden Ears United Church in Maple Ridge and more than 50 volunteers helped out.

Last year, there were more than 250 people who attended.

A refugee family from Syria came in all the way from Coquitlam to have a family portrait taken.

Two Help Portrait volunteers teamed up to provide the family of seven with transportation and car seats.

One of the volunteers, Juliana Shek works with the family through S.U.C.C.E.S.S., a non-profit, multi-cultural, multi-service centre that helps people who are new to Canada.

Shek arranged for a couple of her friends to drive the family to the event and then Shek and another friend gave them a lift home again.

“Then everybody pitched in. We gave each of the kids a school photo because they obviously never ever had school photos before,” said Garcia about the family that has only been in Canada for one year.

“They are a classic example of a family that would benefit from Help Portrait,” said Garcia, saying all five children got a school photo and then they received a family portrait.

“They were so appreciative. They were totally overwhelmed,” said Garcia adding that they wouldn’t have come except for the two volunteers providing them with the means to make it there.

Garcia says she noticed that this year more people seemed hungrier this year than in the past.

“The Salvation Army was very generous with their food,” said Garcia about the amount of food that was packaged to go.

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