PRYOR, OK —
One Pryor mother came up with a creative gift to make this holiday season a little merrier for some Mayes County families.
Amber Sparks founded Family Tree Ministry, a project giving lower-income families a professional family picture.
Her project began when she asked teachers to suggest students that would appreciate the gesture. Then a letter was sent home to the parents with the details.
“Hello, my name is Amber Sparks. I am a lifelong resident of Pryor. I am a wife and mother of two sons and I have a vision to specifically bless your family,” the letter began. “Seven years ago I believe God gave me instructions to bless families with a professional photo for the holidays.”
Sparks said parents who call to schedule an appointment receive an 8x10 photo absolutely free. Sparks said there are many reasons families don't have photos taken each year from not being able to afford a professional photographer or not having a camera in the family budget.
“When I was three years old, my parents divorced. My mom told me they didn't have much money in the 70s and family photos just weren't a priority,” said Sparks, who has only a tiny family picture with her parents and brother.
“I believe everyone should have annual family photos,” said Sparks, who enjoys taking pictures of her family as often as possible.
She said it is all about leaving a legacy.
The letter was sent home with 100 students, but Sparks says she'll do as many as God provides for her to bless.
Her friend, professional photographer Jeremy Scheffel, of Scheffel Photography, will be taking the photos. Sparks' mom, a hairdresser, will be on hand for hair touch-ups and help with posing. Pryor Printing is donating the cost of printing. Sparks said she could not have made it this far in the project without the support of local teachers.
“We want to do everything we can to give people a great family keepsake,” said Sparks.