Local photographers are donating their time, talent and equipment to help foster children find their forever homes by sharing their pictures and showcasing them in various locations in Lubbock.
The Heart Gallery is hosted at Cardinal’s Sports Center, 6524 Slide Road. The hope is to raise awareness about the number of children in the foster care system across West Texas.
Karen Tipton, adoption program specialist for Child Protective Services, says, “We have at least 200 children in the Lubbock area and I cover Amarillo and Lubbock, so its double.”
“Four hundred children in Region 1 … are waiting any given day to be adopted. That’s a lot of children waiting, so this recruitment project is making a huge difference to get their little faces out and the word out about them,” Tipton says.
“You’re never too old to have a family. Everyone needs a family.”
Heart Gallery was initiated for that very reason — to give children a voice to advocate for themselves, and at the same time give potential adoptive parents a way to get to know, creating a bond from the very beginning.
Co-Founder of Heart Gallery of America, Matthew Straeb says, “We were desperate to find new ways to allow the kids to advocate for themselves and one of those ways was for them to do it through a professional photograph.”
And through these photos, CPS is able to get more kids fostered, adopted and into loving, stable homes.
“The recruitment with these children has been so successful. We launched about 12 years ago in the South Plains, and the number of adoptions we’ve had since then has tripled,” said Tipton.
“We’re participating by hosting the Heart Gallery,” says Cory Elmore, Shoe Department Manager at Cardinal’s Sports Center.
“It’s really near and dear to Cardinal’s heart, you know, our owner and his wife have fostered and adopted a kid so it’s just it’s big on their heart, and that’s where their charitable heart lies,” Elmore says.
“As soon as you walk in our front door, you’ll see these pictures. There’s roughly about 30 of them. We’ll have them all throughout the month of December, all way to New Year’s Eve.”