Giving back has always been important to us. Last summer when we got an email from the Catonsville Chamber of Commerce, asking for donations of items like deodorant, shampoo and gum for wounded soldiers recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center, we wanted to help. But we wanted to do more than just send a few bottles of shampoo and some packs of gum, we wanted to find a way to raise more funds than we could donate to this cause AND to let the soldiers and veterans there know that folks were thinking of them.
Enter the Thank You Calendar. We decided to create a project to answer all those needs and more. We photographed a 12-month calendar featuring All-American girls in familiar scenes from home, like by a Christmas tree, fishing from a pier, baking cookies or on a picnic. The models all volunteered their time and were selected for their wholesome looks. Some were professional models, others had never been photographed beyond school pictures. Hair and make-up guru Ashley Riddle, owner of Up Do's for I Do's, also volunteered her time and talents to make the models look incredible.
Next came Jackie Geyer. Jackie was already working on a similar project and mailing it to two soldiers stationed in Iraq. She was taking her Olympus point-and-shoot camera everywhere with her and getting photos of all sorts of everyday people holding a hand-written sign that simply read "Thank You."
We all connected via Ashley. Nathaniel & I work with Ashley in both the wedding and headshots business. She has beautified brides and actors and models ~ and even us ~ for pictures. Ashley introduced us to Jackie, who is her aunt, and the two projects fit together perfectly. Jackie's "thank you" photos were inserted into the calendar in the empty day spaces and gave the pages real life and lots of personality.
The 2008 calendar raised just over $2,000 for wounded veterans. We were thrilled the project was such a success in its first year!! All funds were donated to Maryland for Our Military, a 501c devoted to supporting soldiers and their families at Walter Reed. It is headed by Kathy Ratti, an incredible woman with passion for the cause and endless amounts of energy. We all have huge amounts of respect and admiration for her!
So, we are now working on production of the Thank You Calendar for 2009! All the models have been photographed and the smaller "thank you" pictures are almost all done as well. The newly updated website will be launched soon, so check back often!
We will need publishing sponsors again this year, so let us know if you or your company are interested in helping to support the cause!
Happy July 4th to all and a special thanks to those who have served ~