Project Heirloom offers free family portraits to Sevier County wildfire victims

Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts (Photo: Facebook)

GATLINBURG (WATE) – Following the deadly wildfires in Gatlinburg, many residents lost memories that can never be replaced, photographs.

However, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, along with Sevier County photographers, is trying to help alleviate that problem by helping residents create new memories, with Project Heirlooms.

For one couple, Joy and Pete Jucker, it’s more than just a picture, they say it’s a part of the healing process.

“Just walking up the sidewalk and seeing faces that I know. That we’ve snowboarded or skied with for years. It’s pretty amazing. You know it’s a community effort,” said Pete Jucker.

The Juker’s home was located in North Chalet Village off of Wiley Oakley Drive, one of the hardest hit areas during the wildfire.

Their home was destroyed along with the pictures.

Thomas Gentry, who started Project Heirloom, says they wanted to help the victims in some way.

“We don’t own a restaurant we can’t donate food. We don’t own a construction company so we can’t help rebuild. What do we do? We take photos and make videos,” he said.

Families, couples and man’s best friend are photographed for free thanks to Project Heirloom. The frames are locally handmade by Smokey Mountain Memories and the printers, ink and photo paper, all donated by volunteers.

“We can’t claim this. This is the community helping itself,” said Gentry.

Executive Director of Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Bill May, agree with the Juker’s saying this all part of the healing process.

“We’re trying to put the past behind us now, and all the tragedy and the darkness and people are looking towards the light,” he said.

Photography sessions continue, January 22, from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. and making a reservation is preferred.

To make a reservation, visit the Project Heirloom website.


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