Local Teen Uses Talent to Help Needy Children

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For many teens, summer break means malls, pools, and video games. However, for Emma Elliott, it means so much more. She is using her photography skills to help children in need.

A rising junior at Piedmont High School in Matthews, Emma organized a free family photo shoot open to all families in the community. Her goal was to encourage donations of school supplies to give to children whose families struggle to meet these needs for the upcoming school year. “It really went well. We received $200 in monetary donations, and tons of school supplies!” Emma said.

Looking through the family photos taken by Emma, it is clear she has an eye for catching the perfect shot. “I try to get to know a child before I photograph him or her. That way I try to catch their personality as well as their image.”

A member of Mint Hill Baptist Church, Emma has been on a number of mission trips. “I have seen so many children in poverty not just in other places, but right here in our community as well.” These mission trips have had her working in food pantries, helping out at group homes, and doing door-to-door evangelism. But what she always enjoyed most on these sojourns was being with the children. “They are just so sweet and open minded,” Emma said, “and many of them have never heard the word of God.”

With the back of her car crammed full of backpacks, writing instruments, glue sticks, notebooks and other school supplies,   she plans to fill the backpacks full of the needed merchandise and hand them out where needed. “Many people don’t realize there is poverty right here in our community.” Emma has also been instrumental in helping with a weekend food initiative, in which children are given food for the days off of school. “Some of these children who receive free or subsidized lunches during the week go home to an empty refrigerator.”

When Emma is not busy gathering school supplies, she enjoys spending time with her extended family, and devotes a lot of attention to her school work. “I’m trying keep up my grades to get into a good college.” Again, with a true servant’s heart, she would like to become an oral surgeon, making missions to  help children with cleft palates.

Emma will use the donated money to get more needed backpacks (“I buy them on line in bulk!”) and take the filled backpack directly to the schools or distribute them through Make Your Mark, a charity organization in Charlotte.

If you would like to donate to Emma’s efforts, she can be reached at emmagracepics@gmail.com or at her website emmagracepics.wixcite.com/emmagracephotography

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Kathy Shepler
I was an English professor at The University of Akron, Ohio before retiring and moving to Charlotte last year. My undergraduate degree is in journalism and my masters in education. Along with writing for The Mint Hill Times, I tutor in English and do book editing. I live in Mint Hill with my husband and am involved in a number community activities.