MARYSTOWN, NL — After hearing close friend and long-time client Melissa Browne lost her husband, Richard – who passed away suddenly at the age of 39 on Nov. 12 – local photographer Colin Pittman said he could think of little else.
“(I heard about it) on the 14th while talking to her sister, Rosalie King,” Pittman told the Southern Gazette. “I told her I wanted to hold some sort of portrait fundraiser to help the family out, and Rosalie suggested Santa pictures.”
Over the five days that followed, Pittman went to work finding a location and organizing a Santa photo shoot. It wasn’t difficult to find people willing to lend a hand, he said.
“Shauna and Ryan Billard were a great help through the day, helping to decorate and streamline everything to get folks through quickly,” Pittman explained.
“Their daughter Emily and some of her friends helped, giving out candy canes after each picture, and Emily even made posters to decorate.”
Pittman said he received a lot of support for the event, adding he was given free use of the conference room at St. Gabriel’s Hall for the fundraiser.
“We had a tree, ornaments, a wreath, stockings and other decorations donated for the set and Santa was a treasure – absolutely perfect for the day's event and the kids loved him ... most of them.”
Pittman said he took over 300 photos throughout the day and was able to raise $4,160 during the four-hour event.
“I gave the funds to the family that night, right after the event,” he said.
“Melissa was extremely grateful. She was amazed at how our community came together to help her family and was overwhelmed with the kindness.”
Pittman said he intends to make the Santa photo shoot an annual event with a portion of the funds being donated to St. Gabriel’s Hall, and the remainder going to help a family in need.
“I haven't yet decided exactly how I will choose the family, but we will absolutely be around to help someone.”