Project Heirloom to offer free family portraits to Sevier County fire survivors

SEVIERVILLE (WATE) – A group of Sevier County photographers are helping wildfire survivors and their families.

Project Heirloom hopes to give free family portraits to survivors who lost their homes or businesses. Some families may have lost family photos during the fire.

Betty McKinney is not like many of her neighbors in Gatlinburg. Her memories and history were spared from wildfire flames.

“I was looking out my front door trying to think what would I miss the most if my home did burn. So I gathered up my family pictures,” she said.\

The event will take place January 21-22 at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts staff house. Families will receive a free framed 8×10 print.

“This place is about creativity and community and this is a project that honors heritage, recognizes heritage, recognizes that making memories, preserving memories is an important part of who we are,” said Arrowmont Executive Director Bill May.

Families can make a reservation for an appointment, by calling 865-412-0022 or visit Walk-ins are welcome.

“As tragic as that is, and we’ll never forget the tragedy of these fires, this is an opportunity to look forward, to look to the future. What we have every day is a new opportunity create new memories,” said May.

On days like today,McKinney holds on to her photo albums a little tighter and says she’s touched that the community would create Project Heirloom for her neighbors.

“That’s very important to any family, having a family portrait and then there’s a story that will go with that one that’s different from any of the others,” said McKinney.

Related: Seiver County fire survivors may be eligible for vehicle assistance

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