to help our neighbors in-need.
As the reality of coronavirus was descending on all of us, over a cup of coffee on Sunday morning March 22, 2020, I came across a news article and said to my husband, “take a look at this… I think we should do it here!” The article was about Cara Soulia, a photographer from Needham, MA who had decided to take her professional photography skills and go house to house taking pictures of people on their front steps in return for a donation to a local charity. She called it “The Front Steps Project”. Cara put the idea out for other photographers around the world to bring to their own communities.
Like all other professional photographers, LKN Images came to a standstill as the pandemic spread. But instead of sitting on equipment, technology, talent & time, Cara’s idea inspired me and Ed to go out and do something good. We figured we could donate our time to charity, take photos of families where we live and maybe raise a few hundred dollars for charity. It seemed like an interesting challenge. It would give us something to do. It would help people. But we had no idea how big it would get.
I know how to take photos, but we had no idea how to pull off the logistics of going house-to-house in the middle of a pandemic. How would people know about it? How could they let us know they want to participate? How would we get their free photos to them? How could we handle donations to charity? And as we figured all of that out and got rolling, a funny thing happened… the idea took off! Dozens of families turned to hundreds (and then over 1,000!) One zip code turned to two (and ultimately 14!) Donations went from hundreds to thousands (eventually to over $55,000!)
But we also had to deal with some backlash. When NC’s stay at home order (Executive Order 121) was enacted on March 30, some people were confused. Photographers were attacked online (usually by other photographers) for doing something “illegal” or “not essential”. The Front Steps Project was a volunteer effort to raise money for charity. I can’t speak to other state laws but in NC, volunteering for charity was authorized under Article 1, Section IX. We made sure we verified this at the local and state level before proceeding - including a member of the NC House, a Sergeant in the NC State Police, a few lawyers and the Mayor of Mooresville (all of whom ended up participating in The Front Steps Project). But that didn’t stop the misguided online attacks – even here in Mooresville. Fortunately, we got so busy as the project took off that we didn’t have a moment to waste worrying about the online “experts”.
The results of what happened in just over 60 days astounds us. Over $55,000 for FeedNC. Over 1,000 families signed up to be part of it. $55,000 makes this Lake Norman-based project the largest in the world in terms of total money raised for The Front Steps Project!
It’s amazing what a simple idea can turn into. Thank you, Cara Soulia, for being brilliant. And thank you to the entire Lake Norman area for your generosity in helping FeedNC. What a difference 60 days can make!