December 11, 2015
All Beuncka wants for Christmas is a stash of picture frames perfect for showcasing the gift she recently received: free family portraits she had made with her niece and nephew.
“I’m going to put them up all over my wall and make a scrapbook and put them in there,” she said. “I don’t have kids, so I look at my niece and nephew as my own. They’re my babies and these portraits are a real blessing.”
Beuncka and the children were among the 42 families who received the free Help-Portraits as part of a global initiative aimed at providing keepsakes for those in need. The project was started by celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart in an effort to give people who otherwise couldn’t afford photography the chance to have a family memento.
For the past four years, Rabbi Barry Altmark has organized the Birmingham event, held at the YWCA Central Alabama. Local photographers, editors, and hair and makeup artists donated their time and talents to ensure a picture perfect experience.
“We want to make it a very special day for the families,” Altmark said. “This isn’t just a piece of paper with an image on it – it’s their life. Having pictures on your phone is one thing, but when you have one in a frame on the wall, that makes it special. It makes it a memory.”
During the event, the children made holiday crafts with volunteer teachers while their moms received makeovers. Jack’s donated chicken fingers and drinks while Chef Bob contributed a delicious assortment of desserts. In addition, YWCA AmeriCorps members and volunteers from Birmingham-Southern College helped make the event run smoothly.
“This has been a great opportunity,” Beuncka said. “I just love my pictures and I’m going to share some with the family. The rest are for me so I can show them off.”
Altmark said he and the volunteers were thrilled to be able to help the families during the holidays. “This is a gift to them,” he said. “We’ve seen people laugh and we’ve seen people cry today. One young lady said she wanted to use the photos for job interviews. That’s the biggest compliment, knowing that something we did could help someone have a better life and a happy memory.”
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