ALTON — In the last few years, many families have found themselves cutting out extra expenses, struggling paycheck to paycheck just to cover the necessities.
As a holiday gift to those who may be struggling, one organization is offering one of those “extra expense” items, free of charge.
“We are targeting those who may not be able to afford getting a portrait taken,” photographer Jim Thompson said. “Everyone is welcome regardless of income, but we really want to see single parents with their kids, the elderly, all military vets and their families, regardless of when they served, and underprivileged families and single adults.”
Every December, Help-Portrait Riverbend takes portrait photography for local residents at no cost. This year, the Help-Portrait Riverbend event will be held at the Senior Services Plus School House Grill cafeteria area, 2603 N. Rodgers Ave., on Dec. 6 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., or until everyone has had their photo taken.
Photos can be used as gifts for friends and family, for resumés, for social media, or anything else desired.
“Many people give charitably during holiday times,” Thompson said. “Most of the time, those are usable items; they are used and then gone and needed again. What we do will last for generations, and can be passed down to children and grandchildren.”
Thompson says many people simply do not know how to go about getting affordable portraits taken, and this is an avenue for them to take advantage of the photography expertise of the volunteers.
“Walk-ins are welcome, and we are letting people know to allow an hour or so so we can send them away with a CD and an 8x10 as they leave,” Thompson said.
The group expects to have at least 30 volunteers and five complete studios in anticipation of 200 sittings, so wait time to have the photo taken should be minimal.
“Come dressed in your Sunday best and be prepared to smile,” Thompson said.
The Help-Portrait program was formed in 2008 by celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart and Kyle Chowning in Franklin, Tenn., with the mission to empower photographers, hairstylists and makeup artists to use their skills, tools and expertise to give back to their local communities.
PBC Photography in Bethalto started the Riverbend chapter of Help-Portrait three years ago. It is sponsored by the Alton Area Photography Group, and Thompson is chair for this year’s event.
The group hopes to reach its donation goal of $5,000 by Dec. 5.
“We are presently accepting cash and in-kind donations,” Thompson said. “Donations are vital to us running the program this year as well as ensuring it goes forward next year. We are looking at both corporate and philanthropic donations, and we are a nonprofit organization, so you can take it off on your taxes.”
Donations requested also include:
• Blank CD-Rs
• SDHC cards (4 gig and above)
• 8x10 glossy printer paper from Canon Epson or Kodak
• 8x10 frames
• Gas cards