Local photographers give back to Soldiers, their families
December 6, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla.-- Laura Fleming is like most people this time of year. She is busy preparing for the holidays and making sure she gives the right presents to her family and friends. But, her experience as an Army wife led her to help others give the right present as well.
As a professional photographer, she used her talents to organize a free event to ensure deployed Soldiers received a keepsake worth 1,000 words from their loved ones.
"A lot of these families miss out on watching their kids grow or pregnancy and all those things, so it's just a blessing to be able to do something for them," said Aubrey Proctor, professional photographer.
Three photographers including Fleming, Proctor and Kate Farnsworth along with six volunteers were able to help 29 families with deployed Soldiers get free family photos.
They put the word out through family readiness groups and set up the shoot Dec. 1 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Medicine Creek Park on Fort Sill.
Fleming said she got the idea after hosting a similar event at their former duty station in Hawaii. She said when her husband deployed, she couldn't seem to give him enough memories from home to keep him happy.
"If I would ask him, 'what do you want? Do you want baby wipes? Do you want ChapStick?' He would say every time, 'pictures. I just want pictures.' I would send him the pictures, and he would kind of lament that I was in none of them. That got me thinking we're always sending our Soldier pictures of our children and watching them grow up, but they want to see us, too," said Fleming.
For Salome Lorenzo, the family photos were one thing off of her to-do list.
"My FRG leader told me about it. I thought it was a great opportunity number one, and I think it was awesome for [Fleming] to volunteer her time to do this for us. It was a good opportunity to get Christmas pictures taken as well," said Lorenzo with a laugh. "I can't wait to see the pictures altogether and pick some out and send them to my husband for Christmas."
The photographers gave the families the photos on a CD so they could print or send them electronically in time for the holidays.
They did not ask for donations, but if any of the families decided to do so, the proceeds were split between Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors and the Tobias Alexandar Memorial Scholarship at Cameron University's ROTC program.
Fleming said she was excited to help the families and only wished she could do more. She plans on making this an annual event.
"We want to help these families and give them reason to celebrate, but we also really want to cheer up the Soldiers. Really in the end that's what we're doing it for," said Fleming.