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The Christmas holiday brings to mind images of children in their home, opening the gifts Santa left the night before. One pictures the entire family in their pajamas sitting around the living room as wrapping paper flies and the children’s faces light up with surprise. However, for too many children, this image is replaced with the hard, cold reality of celebrating Christmas in a hospital. But The Heart Project along with Santa are out to change those images for a few lucky children.

The Heart Project is a volunteer organization that strives to improve the lives of families through creativity and launched The Christmas Wish Project three years ago. The project set out to capture truly out-of-this-world Christmas portraits of over 200 children around the world who will be celebrating Christmas in a hospital instead of at home.

A team of 110 photographers and creatives in 10 cities from all over the world volunteered and worked together to create magical portraits. The volunteers created the images by photographing the hundreds of children in front of green screens. Then, with a little Christmas magic and lots of creative talent, the original photos were transformed into beautiful final images and given to the hospitalized children. “Our mission has always been to put a smile on the faces of families who are doing it tough at Christmas by making them escape reality — even for a day — thanks to the power of photography and Photoshop,” said Heart Project co-founder and Story Art creator Karen Alsop.

This year, the project was kicked off in Victoria, Australia and then moved to Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Perth. The project then continued on to several cities in New Zealand and concluded with stops in Canada and the United Kingdom. The project did not mention if Santa’s sleigh and his eight little reindeer were used to provide transportation around the world. Santa isn’t one to focus on himself, so I bet he did provide that transportation.

After watching the behind the scenes video, it is evident that The Heart Project not only gave the children, families, and also the hospital staff joy when they received the final image, but perhaps, more importantly, lots of pleasure during the development of the base image. I’m sure it’s safe for me to speculate that having a change of routine in the hospital brought lots of joy and happiness on the day The Heart Project volunteers showed up at the hospital.

While we all have these thoughts of love and caring floating in our heads, what can we all do during the next year where our talents can be used to provide a little happiness for others? With New Years just around the corner perhaps, it’s time to make a pledge to ourselves and others to accomplish something for the joy of others. It doesn’t have to wait until next Christmas to be performed. Happiness can be spread 365 days a year. I now have a topic for my next American Society of Media Photographers board meeting.

All images used with permission of The Heart Project



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