In her studio, Kristen Michelle Stone captures the smiles of children when she takes their pictures. With the days of summer coming to an end, she plans to make even more happy when they get school supplies for a new school year.
Stone, owner of Kristen Michelle Photography, is teaming up with local churches and schools to collect school items for the new school year. The business in downtown Clinton is requesting that no less than 10 items are donated.
“We’re grateful for anything that they can bring,” Stone said.
In return for a donated gift, the studio is offering discounts toward a photography session. The hours for the drop-off are scheduled for 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 10; Friday, Aug. 11; and Saturday, Aug. 12; at Kristen Michelle Photography, located at 206-A E. Main St., Clinton.
Stone opened the studio on July 1, but she’s been a photographer for several years. The work includes families, children and graduation pictures. She specializes in outdoor pictures. As a traveling photographer, she believes nature is the greatest backdrop — something she referred to as “God’s canvas.”
The Clinton native previously worked at a school in Duplin County and noticed that a lot of children didn’t have the necessities for school.
“I saw a lot of children struggling for school supplies,” she said. “While working at the school, you get to see children who couldn’t even afford pencils.”
And as a child of a single parent, Stone grew up watching her mom go through some of the same things. Her mother Cathy Roberts spoke about the experience.
“You had rent, food, lights and daycare and you’re one person,” Roberts said. “And, oh my God, you start school. Then there’s school supplies, school clothes … it’s tough as a single mother.”
With those experiences, Stone wanted to make a difference in the community by helping children from Clinton City and Sampson County school districts. Items will be donated through local churches, who will select children who need the items the most.
“The churches do a lot,” she said. “That’s why I chose the church to do this with because I know they’ll do good. They will not hand it to just anybody and they have that network.”
At the studio, Stone is assisted by Roberts, who serves as the office manager. Her husband, Alson Stone, is the co-owner. Together, they have two children, Emma, a sixth-grader at Sampson Middle School, and Callie, a preschool student enrolled in the More at Four Pre-Kindergarten program.
The upcoming school supplies drive will be one of many for the photography business. For Christmas, Stone would like to collect gifts for children through the Toys for Tots program.
“I hope that I can help with that as well,” she said. “I hope that I have a long road ahead of me.”