Local Photographer Helps Bring Hope to Families In Need


     I was nervous, but more than that, I was excited! October 14th was a beautiful day and couldn't have produced more perfect weather to take Fall Family Photos!

     For weeks, the Organization of Hope offered signups to anyone in the Sikeston Missouri community who wanted their family portraits taken. All they asked in return was a small $5 donation or a simple donation of children’s clothing. The Organization of Hope has a passion for helping out Local families by holding fill-a-bag events. Families can go and fill up a whole bag of clothes for free. Every cent of the donations from this family photo event was going toward fueling the fill-a-bag events; the most recent of which, ended up helping around 300 families!


     I had the wonderful privilege of being one of the four photographers invited to participate in this fundraising event and when October 14th finally rolled around, I absolutly could not wait to meet each family! Once it was finally time to start, I chose my spot to set up, took a test shot, and just as I anticipated, I loved the light flowing through the colorful hanging branches. 

     I shot and shot and shot. I could hardly put my camera down! It was such a special thing to meet the sweet families who would choose to donate to such a worthy cause! Not only was Organization of Hope helping these families who were in need of economical portraits, but these families could get them knowing they were helping others in their community through their donations. It was beautiful (and at some points, silly.) 


     I was also pleasantly surprised at how laid back and well organized it was for such a large event! It was primarily due to our amazing ring leader Amber, who is the Southeast Missouri Director for the Organization of Hope. She did an incredible job coordinating everything from the finding of photographers and volunteers, to signing up the families; not to mention the many additional behind the scene jobs she does. An event like this is lost without its leader, but it's impossible without a network of willing helpers as well! Shoe Sensation, from Sikeston Missouri, not only had volunteers helping out at the event, but it is also participates as one of the area’s donation drop off centers. 

     One aspect of this event that is really close to my heart was being able to come together with other photographers and give back to our community. I love the idea of community over competition and I hope to find more ways in the future to continue to spread this concept in our area. As the granddaughter of the founder of Sikeston's local foodbank, when I participate in events like this one, I like to think I’m following in my grandmother's footsteps! But as cool as that is, it’s nothing, compared to knowing that I am following in my Creator’s footsteps. I believe, with all my heart, that loving the people around me should be a part of who I am, not merely because of who my family is but because of who I was created to be.

     By the end of the day I was completely exhausted but so pumped about all the photos I took for each family! I was blessed to have been a part of something so eternally significant and I hope my families love their portraits as much as I loved taking them! 


Written by Guest Blogger Melanie Lazcano, owner of Divine Spark Photography in Sikeston Missouri.


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*images by Divine Spark Photography. If your business would like to be showcased in one of Artist By Heart's local business insiders, please contact Jennifer @ artistbyheart.pb@gmail.com.