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Local Photographer Gives Helping Hand to Charity

KATONAH, N.Y. -While many consider winter as the season of giving, Katonah’s Jamie Kilgore is turning back the clock, choosing October as her time to give.

Kilgore, a local photographer and owner of Jamie Kilgore Photography, is donating part of her proceeds October to Operation Smile. The idea was hatched by the Professional Photographers of America, who have an agreement with the charity.

Operation Smile is an organization that treats children around the world who suffer from cleft lips, palates and other facial deformities. These children would not have the means to get these surgeries without the help of the fund. Since 1982, the program has given over 200,000 free surgeries.

“I just feel awful about any child who has any deformity, but especially something that can be fixed,” Kilgore said. “There are so many children have such different diseases people can’t fix, so when there is a program like this, why not actually do something about it.”

Kilgore has witnessed the other side of the spectrum, with children who have no hope for a cure, or even a future. Kilgore is a part of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, an organization of photographers that is on call for a struggling family about to lose a child due to sickness. The photographer takes snap shots of the child meant as healing keepsakes.

Her involvement in both organizations does not surprise Liana Felt, her assistant of just over six weeks.

“It’s just the type of person she is. Once I came in, she said, ‘we’re going to start doing this.’ I knew what Operation smile was from high school,” says Felt. “I was slightly involved in it. But it’s been really great getting involved now, and hearing different stories.”

As a photographer who specializes in children’s photos, Kilgore has the uncanny ability to make a child show their truest self. Through Operation Smile, she is just using that skill on a global scale.

“There’s the difference between the forced smile, and the one you get from the person who is about to laugh” says Felt, “and Jamie is good at getting the latter out of people.”

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