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Norvelt photographer holds charity event

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 9:58 p.m.
For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Studio holds benefit for hospital Amy Booley, owner of amybPhotography in Norvelt, at the business's annual Santa Charity Event and Craft Show, which raised money to benefit UPMC Children's Hospital on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012. Eighty-seven children sat with Santa for photos and the fees were waived in lieu of monetary or toy donations for patients at the facility. Cami DiBattista | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Karen Booley of Norvelt helps arrange the toy donations being collected for UPMC Children's Hospital at the annual Santa Charity Event and Craft Show held at amybPhotograpy in Norvelt on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012. Booley's daughter, Amy Booley, began hosting events for charity when she opened her studio three years ago as a way to give back to the community. Cami DiBattista | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Amy Schultheis of Scottdale, a representative of Firefly Chocolates, shows off some goodies to siblings Issac Misselli, 12, and Julia Misselli, 11, both of United, in the vendor area at the annual Santa Charity Event and Craft Show held Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at amybPhotography in the Norvelt Business Plaza. Cami DiBattista | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal

Eighty-seven children visited Santa Claus in Norvelt recently at a benefit fundraiser for UPMC Children's Hospital.

The event, which took place in the Norvelt Business Plaza, was hosted by Amy Booley, owner of amybPhotography.

Booley raised almost $900 and a truck bed full of toys, including a Nintendo Wii system and a Cricut crafting machine during the two-day event and included 11 hours of shooting time.

When Booley opened her studio in 2010, she said she knew she wanted to do something to give back to the community.

“I feel so blessed to be doing what I love, to have a loving family, wonderful clients and my health. I just want to give back,” Booley said.

Booley decided to start a holiday tradition that would allow both her and her clients to give back.

Thus, the Santa Charity Event and Craft Show began.

As part of the event, Booley hosts a Christmas photo session in her studio and waives the session fee.

Clients were invited to come in for cocoa and cookies, visit with Santa, shop at the craft booths and take part in a mini photo session.

Guests were asked to bring a monetary donation or an unopened toy for the year's chosen charity.

Booley choose to give proceeds to Children's Hospital after donating her efforts as a photographer earlier in the year at the facility. “The kids were so amazing. The smiles on their faces reminded me that each day was a blessing. And I wanted to make them smile yet again on Christmas morning,” Booley said.

Children's Hospital participates in “Flashes of Hope” — a program to help children with cancer feel better about their changing appearance by celebrating it with a personal photo shoot.

“I think the event is great,” said Mike Shulock, a child life specialist at the hospital. “It speaks a lot of Amy as a person that she would do this.”

Twelve local vendors participated in the charity event.

Children's clothing items, candles, jewelry and candy were among the items for sale.

Vendors were asked for donations, as well.

Some gave all their profits, some donated specific items to sell, Booley said.

“Amy is a wonderful young woman. Too few of our younger generation appreciate the value of giving and I am so excited to be joining her in this charity event,” said Debbie Brown of Mt. Pleasant, the owner of Buggaboos, which deals in custom handmade items for babies and young children.

The event at amybPhotography has grown every year since it began in 2010. Previous charities have included The Blackburn Center in Greensburg and a local charity called “Miracles of Giving.”

“I wouldn't be able to hold the events and be where I am today without the help of my family and fiancé,” Booley said.

Booley holds a similar charity event at Easter time.

Cami DiBattista is a freelance writer.