Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Tuscaloosa natives donated portraits following storm

Terrified as they watched the tornado ravish their hometown, Jana and Miller Mobley wondered how they could help from their distant location.

Owners of Miller Mobley Photography in New York City the Mobleys decided to execute their artistic talents as a way to give back through a project titled Relief Portraits.

“We wanted to help in a way where we could use our gifts and talents to give back,” Jana Mobley said. “So we could do something a little different since Tuscaloosa was already overflowing with help and relief efforts of many kinds.”

Jana Mobley and her husband chose to offer free family portraits to those who had lost everything as a way to help with the rebuilding process.

“Miller and I were talking one day about the people who had lost absolutely everything and we were thinking about how sad it was even to lose the smallest things like your family photos,” she said.

Relief Portraits began as an idea to take free family portraits for those who lost everything, including their personal photos, and grew into a more elaborate and successful event as word spread through Tuscaloosa.

The Mobleys spent a week visiting local shelters, hotels, relief centers, churches and the Salvation Army truck to distribute the flyers advertising their free photography service.

“I told everyone we knew to spread the word to anyone who may be in need,” Jana Mobley said. “I put my phone number on the flyer so that people who did not have a rider or who had lost their cars in the storm could still come.”

The event was held at Miller’s former high school gym, American Christian Academy, and a shuttle was provided to transport families to and from the venue.

In addition to the photography services, Project Blessings and Belk donated thousands of brand new clothes and shoes for the families to wear for the portraits. The families were allowed to take the clothes with them when the left.

Nancy Taylor Day Spa donated cosmetic and hair services to the women and several day care center workers offered sitter services, providing a break for parents while they shopped.

Jana Mobley said over 78 families showed up to the event, and she and her husband were overwhelmed by the amount of the support from volunteers that helped with their event.

“It was heartbreaking, I can’t tell you how many times we teared up throughout the day,” she said.

“One couple came in with their three children and the lady was crying telling us how she and her family had finally been able to afford family photos and had some made right before the tornado. They lost them all and she could not stop telling us how thankful she was to be able to replace what she had lost.”

Jana Mobley said American Shutterbug donated their printing services so that each family could enjoy a free 8×10 portrait.

“We learned that there is absolutely no better feeling that using our gifts to bless others and spread some love,” she said. “Seeing these people come in somber and reserved then leave a few hours later with a huge smile on their face meant the world to us.”

Mobley said after Relief Portraits’ success, she felt it was important for her and her husband to continue to use their talents as a way to give back in times of need.

“We learned that spreading the love is really what life and what happiness is all about,” she said.

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