Operation Love Reunited

July 6, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A valley photographer has found a way to give back to military families. She's offering photo sessions for troops and their families and then sending them overseas, all free of charge.Ryan and Olivia Kuykendall wore red, white, and blue -- as they smiled for Kingsburg photographer Heather Dunn. Their dad, Joshua, is in the U.S. Navy and will be deploying soon. The Lemoore sailor will get the photos sent to him as he's a half a world away.

"That's their one link to home. They don't have a lot of space and a lot of room to keep things over there. But I hear over and over again that the photos are very important," said Dunn. Dunn joined "Operation Love Reunited" earlier this year. It's a national organization made of photographers who donate their time in order to take photos of service members and their families before and during their deployments.

They're photos the Kuykendall's said they'll cherish. "We haven't had any done since my middle one was born, so it's been four years. And with them leaving, it's great to have a family one!" said Nicole Kuykendall.

This will be Joshua Kuykendall's fourth deployment, and the second since he's become a father. He said he enjoys getting photos from home. "It's exciting it builds morale as we're out there for six months. Its fun watching them grow. Not at home, but you get to see them grow still and not [not] see them."

Dunn said she joined "Operation Love Reunited" as a way to say thank you to service members and their families. It's also a part of her unique business philosophy. "It's just not just taking pictures; it's not just making money. It's not the way a lot of people run business, but to me it's very important to be able to give back as much as I can," said Dunn.

Each photo session is free and then a book of 10 photographs is sent to the troops during their deployment. Other photographs are available for purchase at a discounted rate. Dunn has already photographed more than 15 military families and Saturday she set up a booth at "Military Appreciation Night" at the Grizzlies game to let more families know about the free photo sessions. To her, being part of "Operation Love Reunited" is the least she can do. "It's been a great cause. It's a way to give something to these families that are giving so much," said Dunn.

Dunn is one of only two valley photographers affiliated with "Operation Love Reunited." She' is hoping more will join the cause because just months after joining the organization, she is already swamped.


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