Although it’s been nearly four months since Hurricane Sandy viciously swept through the East Coast, its path of destruction continues to haunt the families touched by it.

We remember how we all felt after seeing the images of flooded subways, destroyed homes and distraught communities.

And we remember the moment we realized we had the power to do something about it.

As news crews interviewed victims in the midst of the aftermath, those affected responded that they wished they had their photographs. We knew we could never replace their photos, but we could offer them a fresh start.

After providing portraits for people in need for the past four years, Help-Portrait volunteers have seen the power of photography first-hand and how coming alongside of someone in need and giving them portraits can return the light in the eyes of those who had previously been hopeless.

So we got to work. We hoped to help as many affected families as we could by not only giving them portraits but cameras and hard drives to preserve future memories. We wanted to give gift bags, basic survival supplies and anything else to uplift spirits during this devastating time. We began connecting with photographers, makeup artists, volunteers and the Help-Portrait communities in New York and New Jersey. Then we came to you, the Help-Portrait community, for help.

We invited you to play a massive role in supporting the vision, which many of you graciously answered. Words cannot express our deep gratitude.

Because of your donations we were able to hold four events in New Jersey and New York. 78 photographers and 172 volunteers (make-up artists, hairstylists, greeters, food servers, etc.) were able to provide free portraits for 278 different families who were affected by Hurricane Sandy. While we were unable to reach our campaign target in order to secure new cameras for the family, we were able to provide each family with new hard drives where they will be able to store their new photographs. Beyond that, we were able to give clothing, food, supplies and even surprised a handful of the kids with Christmas gifts from Santa himself! The impact of this event could tangibly be felt as joy contagiously spread throughout the room. The families received a day of love, care and hope because of you. Thank you.

Here is a peak into just a few stories from the day that couldn’t have happened without your support:

Help Portrait Staten Island, NY 2012 Hurricane Sandy Relief from Philip Small on Vimeo.

On behalf of the team here at Help-Portrait and the families you have served in New Jersey and New York, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We couldn’t have done this without you!

As we look toward this coming year of Help-Portrait, we would love to invite you to continue serving with us. You can help by giving, getting involved in future Help-Portrait events by signing up on our community site, or spreading the word via social media or wearing HP apparel.