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VOL. 128 | NO. 237 | Thursday, December 05, 2013

Agape Celebrates Young ‘Pictures of Hope’ Artists

By Michael Waddell

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Agape Child & Family Services celebrated 14 young photographers Tuesday, Dec. 3, unveiling the Pictures of Hope holiday cards based on the children’s missive to capture their dreams on camera. The celebration and unveiling were part of Agape’s second-annual Meet the Young Artist holiday party, held at Chuck Hutton Chevrolet in East Memphis.

“The Pictures of Hope program has been very successful in helping to support our Families in Transition (FIT) program, which serves homeless, pregnant and parenting moms,” said Agape executive director David Jordan. “The kids went out with mentors and escorts, taking pictures of their hopes, dreams and aspirations, and those pictures were then turned into Christmas cards.”

Agape Child & Family Services and Chevrolet employees present holiday gifts to Pictures of Hope participants at Chuck Hutton Chevrolet on Tuesday.

(Freeman Peterman/Chuck Hutton Chevrolet)

The 15-card sets are being sold to raise money for Agape, a Christian-based organization dedicated to providing underprivileged children and families with healthy homes.

The fundraiser was a huge success for Agape last holiday season, with sales of about 450 card sets generating more than $11,000, and 100 percent of the proceeds going back to benefit the organization.

Six Memphis-area Chevrolet dealerships joined forces again this year, raising approximately $14,000 to provide gifts for the children and their families.

“We feel honored that we were selected again this year by Chevrolet,” said Henry Hutton, president and general manager of Chuck Hutton Chevrolet. “I was encouraged by the enthusiasm from my fellow Chevy dealers, who stepped up and gave twice as much as they did last year.”

Hutton partnered for the event with Serra Chevrolet, Jim Keras Chevrolet, Jimmy Grey Chevrolet, All-Star Chevrolet and Sunrise Chevrolet.

He feels the event is about showing the kids that they can accomplish great things if they make the effort.

“The program just expands the children’s horizons,” Hutton said. “It’s great to support a ministry like Agape and to be associated with quality people that truly believe that every child deserves a good home.”

Gifts presented to each family Tuesday included a new Toshiba laptop, toys and other items from the children’s wish lists, and household necessities such as new sheets (for parents and children) and watches for all the kids.

“This event is a nice way of honoring our youth, while also highlighting the tremendous need that exists in the community,” Jordan said.

Award-winning photojournalist and author Linda Solomon, who spearheads the nationally acclaimed Pictures of Hope program, returned to Memphis for the event.

“This year has been amazing to see how the children shared their hearts,” said Solomon, who selected the winning shots and made any needed Photoshop edits. “It’s important to show children that their dreams matter, and hopefully they will always remember today.”

Solomon and budding photographer Marlon, one of the Agape children in the program, were featured on “Fox & Friends” on Fox News on Thanksgiving Day. Ten-year-old Marlon’s touching photo conveyed the message that he wants people to know that he is “not a nobody.”

Solomon explained that the program helps the children build self-esteem and puts them on the path toward achievement.

“This year’s cards are very powerful and poignant, and they reveal many very special things,” said Solomon, who chose Memphis to participate in the program for the second straight year.

The other 11 cities chosen this year include Albuquerque, N.M.; Tucson, Ariz.; Ft. Myers, Fla.; El Paso, Texas; Indianapolis; Kansas City, Mo.; Nashville; Oklahoma City; Phoenix; Cleveland; and Morristown, N.J.

The Pictures of Hope participants were selected from more than 10,000 children served at the various Agape locations around the city each year. The card sets are the direct result of an Agape Pictures of Hope event in August in which the 14 children were surprised with free digital cameras donated by co-sponsor Walgreen’s. The kids, ages 7 to 15, journeyed to the University of Memphis campus that afternoon to explore and take snapshots of their interests.

The cards are available now for $25 per set at the participating Chevrolet dealerships and at www.agapemeanslove.org.

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