Virginia community throws extravagant Christmas party for those in need, offers free family photos

It's a Christmas that some 60 or so families in Lynchburg, Va. will never forget.

Leah Stauffer, assistant director of social media for GameOn--the sports network at Liberty University--won't either after she organized a massive Christmas party to offer free family photos to those in need.

It was an idea the photographer thought of in August while waiting at the airport, and wondering how she could help others.

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"I started thinking about those families that don't have family photos," Stauffer, who has been a photographer since 2012, told Fox News. "What if we did that opportunity for families that typically can't afford family photos?"

DJ Freddy Mac from K92 radio and Leah Stauffer, who organized Sunday's big event.

DJ Freddy Mac from K92 radio and Leah Stauffer, who organized Sunday's big event. (Chase Gyles)

The wedding photographer started reaching out to vendors and those she'd worked with before. Each one quickly agreed to join.

Her dream came true Sunday, with more than 40 volunteers working with over 60 families, for a 5-hour nonprofit event called "The Christmas Studio."

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"It was more than just family photos," Stauffer said. "It was the best thing I could've ever imagined."

Over 40 volunteers helped makes Sunday's big event happen.

Over 40 volunteers helped makes Sunday's big event happen. (The Christmas Studio)

With three Christmas studio sets going simultaneously, families got printouts and photo galleries. They danced to the music provided by a live DJ and enjoyed food, drink, and even availed themselves of hair and makeup artists.

After dozens of families registered, the Liberty grad said the coolest part was putting faces to names.

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"Seeing the reactions of the parents when they were just getting to have fun taking the photos," Stauffer added. "The reactions and memories that were created there. That's the best part!"

It meant a lot to the Stanfield family.

The Stanfield family at the event Sunday.

The Stanfield family at the event Sunday. (The Christmas Studio)

“We saw this and how it said for families that might not have the opportunity to do so during the Christmas season," said Kelci Stanfield in a testimonial sent to Fox News by Stauffer. "I have a terminal illness so anytime we can do family photos like this it is important that we do. And also because we are in medical school we have many negative dollars. So we are very thankful to be here and are having so much fun.”

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Jayne Hoare, one of the mothers, who got a photo with her son, said in a testimonial sent by Stauffer: "I cannot express with words the gratitude that I feel for you being obedient to what God placed on your heart."

Stauffer said she chose Christmastime because its "time for family" and can be especially difficult financially for many, adding: "It's just creating those Christmas memories that those kids can look back at as well."

Jayne Hoare and her son pictured at the special Christmas event Sunday.

Jayne Hoare and her son pictured at the special Christmas event Sunday. (The Christmas Studio)

She was blown away by how quickly and willingly the community came together to help others.

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"You see so much brokenness and hurt in this world," she said, "but to see something where people put aside their differences to serve one another, it just gives you hope for humanity and what God's doing in this world and it's incredible!"