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Finding faces of freedom
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With an extensive military background - her great grandfather, grandfather, father, uncle and sister all served in the U.S. Army, Mary Anne Hinkle is an avid supporter for U.S. soldiers.

"I have always wanted to join the military. Because of health reasons, I couldn't," Hinkle said. Her family's long involvement in the army, with her father serving 28 years and her sister serving 20 years, influenced her to look for organizations to help the soldiers.

She recently came upon the nonprofit organization Photos for Soldiers and decided to become a photographer for the organization.

"I wanted to give back to the soldiers for their service and their sacrifice," Hinkle said.

The organization helps to bond families of deployed soldiers in the armed forces together. Free of charge, the photographers of Photos for Soldiers provide families with a photo session, four by six edited prints and a digital CD of edited prints. A care package is also sent to the soldiers.

Photos for Soldiers is active nationwide, with 150 photographers located all around the country. Families can choose to take their family portraits, capture their family member's deployment or homecoming or take pictures of any event their family member could not be part of during his or her deployment.

Hinkle has been a photographer for more than 20 years, but is excited about the opportunity to work with Photos for Soldiers. She recently took photos of Sgt. Mark Gagne, a Covington resident and member of the National Guard who is on medical leave from Afghanistan. His Humvee, a military motor vehicle, was hit by a roadside bomb.

The photographers of the organization are all volunteers, taking their time to help families of deployed soldiers cherish memories with their loved ones. Claire DeHaan from Michigan founded the organization. Her son is specialist in the army.

For families of deployed soldiers interested in having a photo session, they can go to the website, and fill out their contact information. The region coordinator of the organization will put a photographer near the families' area in contact with the family and a photo session will be scheduled.

Hinkle said she's also willing to take free photos for soldiers through her business Mary Anne Hinkle Photography, as long as they have their original military uniform and are willing to wear it for the photos.

Due to the lack of funding and donations, the organization has not been able to send the photos to the soldiers.

"We still give the families the disc of the photos, but currently we are unable to send the photos to the soldiers as the entire program has been completely funded by myself," DeHaan replied to The News via Facebook.

To donate to the organization, visit the Photos for Soldiers website where there is a link to the donation page.

According to DeHaan, the public can either adopt a soldier for $45 in which the soldier will get a care package along with their photos or can make a monetary donation of their choice to help send the deployed soldier his or her care package.

The organization is also planning an online auction on Facebook. Photographers also interested in volunteering for Photos for Soldiers can go to the website and send in their information.

"The goal of the organization is to bring memories to these families so they can have them and cherish them," Hinkle said.

"To see that deployed soldier come home, I'm going to try my best to capture their arrival and capture the memories for the families."