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Giving back, one click at a time

Neighbors: Profiles of our community

AUBREY HORD Working to give back

Forty-five thousand. That’s how many people were fed by the Maui Food Bank last month. Prior to COVID-19, the nonprofit served around 10,000 people every month. That number has more than quadrupled and may very likely continue to increase in the weeks to come.

But there are bright spots amid the gloom. Since the pandemic began, scores of residents have stepped up to lend a hand, doing whatever they can to help the food bank provide hunger relief to those in need.

Among them is Maui photographer Aubrey Hord, who is giving back the best way she knows how — with her camera.

Like so many others, COVID-19 forced Hord to put her business — and livelihood — on hold last spring. And like so many others, she became distressingly aware of the toll the pandemic was taking on local nonprofits.

“I asked myself: ‘How can I be a part of the solution?’ “ she recalled.

Maui photographer Aubrey Hord is using her skills and talents to help others through “Stuff the Studio,” a virtual food drive for the Maui Food Bank. The promotion, by the Maui Headshot Project, includes a professional headshot session at Hord’s photography studio in Pukalani. Photo courtesy Aubrey Hord Photography

That’s when she came up with a picture-perfect plan.

When Hord returned to her Pukalani photography studio in May, she debuted a fundraising initiative called the Maui Headshot Project. The goal was twofold: to provide an opportunity for anyone returning to work or forging a new career path to get a professional headshot at a special rate and to raise money for hard-hit nonprofits. Since then, she’s snapped dozens of headshots and raised thousands of dollars for the Maui Food Bank, Maui Humane Society and Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation.

Last month, she decided to focus solely on the food bank with “Stuff the Studio,” a Maui Headshot Project initiative that runs through Dec. 31. Here’s how it works: Participants go online and donate to the Maui Food Bank through a special link: mauifoodbank.org/virtual-food-drive/. Then they email their donation receipt to Hord to book a headshot session for $99 (the full retail price is $199). The minimum donation is $10 per person to qualify for the promotion. Stuff the Studio includes one high-resolution, in-studio headshot on a basic background; standard retouching is also included. Additional headshots, as well as hairstyling, professional makeup and wardrobe consultation, can be purchased separately.

“Even in difficult years, I’ve always been inspired by the way our community comes together to lift each other up,” Hord said. “Stuff the Studio by the Maui Headshot Project was designed to provide local professionals, especially those who may be pivoting in their careers, with an opportunity to receive a headshot at an exclusive price while raising funds for Maui Food Bank during this most critical time.”

This isn’t the first time Hord has put her talent to work to make a difference. As a 1 Percent for the Planet business member, she donates a percentage of her gross sales every year to Hawaii-based environmental nonprofits, including the Surfrider Foundation Maui Chapter, East Maui Watershed Partnership, West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership, Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project and the Waipa Foundation.

In the weeks to come, Hord hopes to fill the Maui Food Bank’s shelves with every click of her camera. The nonprofit’s impact cannot be overstated, especially now. Food banks nationwide continue to face an unprecedented demand for resources, and the Maui Food Bank is no exception. Donations are needed more than ever to help feed families, children, seniors, the homeless — anyone who is at risk of going hungry.

To learn more about the Maui Headshot Project or to participate in Stuff the Studio, visit aubreyhord.com/headshots. For more information about the Maui Food Bank, visit www.mauifoodbank.org or call 243-9500.

* Sarah Ruppenthal is a Maui-based writer. Do you have an interesting neighbor? Tell us about them at missruppenthal@gmail.com. Neighbors and “The State of Aloha,” written by Ben Lowenthal, alternate Fridays.

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