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Help-Portrait provides for those in need

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Help-Portrait volunteer photographers don't just take pictures - they give them.

About 40 people including 15 professional photographers and six hair and makeup specialists volunteered their time and skills to assist with the annual Help-Portrait event held Saturday at the Hoosier Veteran's Assistance Foundation.

Help-Portrait is a global movement of photographers using their time, gear and expertise to provide portraiture to people who cannot afford it. Particiapting photographers don't accept any money and don't keep any of the portraits for their portfolios.

Donnell Marzett, an Army veteran, came after hearing about the event on the morning news.

"(I came) because they offer veterans an opportunity to get things done that they normally don't do on their own when they're homeless," Marzett said. "It's both a personal thing and a family thing (for me) because I haven't had a portrait taken in a long time."

Nate Crouch is one of the photographers who volunteered his time.

"I have volunteered, but mostly not in the photography realm, which is why I was really excited about this because I can use photography as a way to give back," Crouch said.

The event takes on an extra-special feel during the holidays, he added.

"It's important to give these to people who might not be able to have them on their own," Crouch said. "Especially in the Christmas season, where documenting yourself and sending them to loved ones and family is so important and is something we take for granted. It's as simple as taking a picture or having a picture to send to somebody."

Russell Hardcastle, a formerly homeless Army veteran who now lives now in HVAF-provided housing, said he plans to share his portraits with his family.

"It's photography day," Hardcastle said. "It's something I couldn't really afford in the past."

HVAF has hosted the local Help-Portrait event since it began three years ago. Anyone experiencing homelessness or inability to otherwise pay for a portrait was invited to participate.

"(This is) a way to give back," said Debra Des Vignes, HVAF communication coordinator. "It helps those getting their pictures taken feel good about themselves because everyone should have the chance to feel good about themselves."

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