It was the year of Robert and Debbie Stewart’s 10th wedding anniversary and they wanted to do something special.
So when they saw an article about Help Portrait in the paper, they knew they wanted to take part.
Although they had been married for 10 years, they never had a professional portrait taken of the two of them.
That was four years ago and it meant the world to them.
“[Robert] had been quite sick prior to that. He was on CPP and I was working a minimum wage job. I needed that something special at the moment,” said Debbie.
What they got from the day was a “true keepsake”.
From the instant they walked in the door they felt like they were part of a family.
“Everybody’s friendly,” Robert said.
“They just take you in and do you all up. The makeup, the hair and the whole bit, which I think is really nice,” he said.
“That day just brought him back to life, the time that we were there,” said Debbie.
Robert and Debbie loved the event so much they decided to volunteer the following year.
Robert did security.
This year, however, he wanted to do something different.
He thought, ‘I have a white beard. Why not dress up as Santa Claus?’
“I want to see the look on their faces when Santa Claus walks in,” laughed Stewart, who has been spreading word of the event to as many people as possible.
“We are really hoping to get more people to come out because we have the ability to serve more people than we have had in the past and we know there is more of a need this year,” said Help Portrait organizer Brenda Garcia.
She is hoping to see at least 300 people come through the door for the sixth annual event in Maple Ridge.
Help Portrait is an occasion where photographers, editors, hair stylists and makeup artists come together for an afternoon of free portrait sessions for those who may not otherwise have the opportunity to have a professional photograph taken.
Every family leaves with a free 8×10 framed portrait.
This year, there will be four photo booths, a hair and makeup station, a children’s activity station, and live music provided by a variety of local artists, including Pam Burns and Caden Knudson.
For children, there will be games, reading and colouring, and they will also be able to make and take home a Christmas tree ornament.
Help Portrait is a global event that takes place in 67 countries and 2,800 locations around the world on the same day.
It was founded in 2009 by American photographer Jeremy Cowart.
“It just gives us a chance to connect with our community and spread the Christmas spirit,” said Garcia.
“With our economy and the housing market the way it is now, it seems that there’s a lot more need and a lot less money to go around for the little things. Family photos are the first thing to go when you have to decide between extras like that and putting a roof over your head or feeding the family,” Garcia added.
The Stewarts have three portraits of themselves that adorn their living room wall.
They are looking forward to getting another one this year, especially dressed as Santa Claus.
Help Portrait takes place from 1-8 p.m. on Dec. 3 at Golden Ears United Church, 22165 Dewdney Trunk Rd. in Maple Ridge. No reservations are needed.
For more information go to helpportraitridgemeadows.com.