Photographer Stacy Able gets a hug from a grateful mom at Help Portrait.

The Salvation Army’s Women and Children’s Shelter in downtown Indianapolis was abuzz with activity on Saturday as a team of photographers, hair stylists, and makeup artists converged on the site. Help Portrait Indy 2009, a one-day event meant to coincide with the worldwide launch on December 12, was a chance for those with artistic talents to give back to their community. Katie Moon, professional photographer, spearheaded the event with the help of 40 volunteers. 234 men, women and children were photographed, which included current and past clients, and residents of the Barton Center Apartments.

On Monday, “everyone is still talking about how awesome it was” said Julia Sipes, Special Projects Coordinator for the shelter. That is exactly the emotion that would’ve pleased Nashville photographer Jeremy Cowart, founder of Help Portrait. Mr. Cowart used the internet to generate interest in his idea which was birthed during the summer and exploded into a global movement to give disadvantaged people a chance to get professional photos taken. Nearly every state and 60 countries held their own Help Portrait event which included media coverage aired on CNN. Photo editor Joel Mills, who volunteered for the event in Virginia summed up the impact – “Giving a photo to a stranger gives you a unique opportunity to speak a kind word of encouragement, value, beauty, and truth that isn’t quite as tangible without the photo to give your words context.”

At the shelter in Indy, stylists and makeup artists pampered the women while the children were kept busy decorating cookies. Breakfast was generously donated by Ripple Bagel & Deli in Broadripple.  Participants were presented with a framed family portrait, gift bags and children’s books. Afterwards, everyone was treated to pizza on behalf of the volunteers. Next year’s Help Portrait has already been slated for December 4th around the globe. For more information about how you can give or volunteer for events at The Women and Children’s Shelter contact Julia Sipes at (317)637-5551.