Portrait of Kindness: South Students Create Meaningful Art for Children in Need

Students in teacher Mary Ellen Ryan’s art class at Williamsville South High School recently took on a very special assignment, creating personal portraits for children in Puerto Rico who were affected by Hurricane Maria, a category 4 storm that devastated the island last year.


The Memory Project is a nonprofit organization that began in 2004, and partners with teachers and their students “to create portraits for youth around the world who have faced substantial challenges, such as  violence, disasters, extreme poverty, neglect, and loss of parents,” according to the organization’s website. The Memory Project receives photos of children and teens from global charities operating in countries around the world. Each participating art student gets a photograph of a child, his or her name, age, and favorite color.


Participants contribute $15 per portrait to cover the cost of coordinating the program and delivering the finished portraits. Ms. Ryan received a grant from the Williamsville Education Foundation, Inc. for $240 to cover the cost for her Drawing and Paint students to participate. “We will send the children their finished portraits in hopes they will have something of their very own, a keepsake to hold on to, since so many lost much of their personal belongings,” said Ms. Ryan. “We hope it lifts their spirits and brings a smile to their faces.”


For more information about the Memory Project, visit the organization’s web site at https://memoryproject.org/.

Pictured, Cassandra Kegler, Gr. 10 shows off her completed portrait as Tanya Robinson, Gr. 10, puts the final touches on her artwork.