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How Hanover students are healing through their art

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- Art can make you think about the beauty in the world. It can also make you think about the scary things.

High school students who want to be in the National Art Society have to do service work.

Art teacher Cindy McNamara turned to the Memory Project for help.

“When the pictures of the children came, it took a more personal turn of events," Ms. McNamara said.

Hanover High School art teacher Cindy McNamara

The charitable non-profit organization invited art teachers and students to create and donate portraits to youth around the world who have faced substantial challenges, such as neglect, abuse, loss of parents, violence, and extreme poverty.

"All of them are going through something," graduating senior Maggie Peyton said. "I mean, that's the whole purpose of it; to give them something to look forward to."

Their project was to paint portraits of children in war-torn Ukraine.

"I could paint a picture for somebody and they'd be like 'Okay, here's $50,'" graduating senior Emily Lingg said, "but with these kids, they couldn't do that.  They didn't even have a photo to give us.  They had to take the photo for them to send to us."

Art student Emily Lingg

Art student Emily Lingg

For Emily, it was important to get one thing perfect.

"Somebody's soul is in their eyes," she said. "So once you paint the eyes, you kind of connect.  Even though these kids were in the Ukraine, I felt like they were right in front of me and I was painting them."

"I hope that they feel a feeling of gratitude for all that they have," Ms. McNamara said.

“Hopefully, they'll do things like this for other children."