Fayette County native Ali Reeves recently spoke about her new photography business and her efforts during Christmas to raise money for the “Shop with a Cop” non-profit.
The 18-year-old — who opened Ali Reeves Photography last year — answered some questions this week about her fundraising efforts and introduced herself to the community.
“I’m 18 years old. I was raised here in Fayette County by my parents Joe Reeves and Jenny Moss,” Reeves said. “I graduated from Washington High School and I now attend Wilmington College in Wilmington where I am majoring in Communications. I work at Community Action here in Fayette County doing social media/marketing work and I am an advocate for domestic violence, and I attend Crossroads Christian church where I also take pictures.”
According to Reeves, photography was always something she did in 4-H. Following COVID-19 shutdowns, she found herself out of work, bored and at home with no income. She knew college was going to start right around the corner and she had wanted to be able to attend college loan-free.
“Starting this small business has been a way for me to pay for school without having to get any loans,” Reeves said. “I’m so happy to say that I am still loan-free with the help of this small business. I took what I had been learning with photography and applied it to start this small business. Photography has always been something I’ve done because of 4-H. I never really knew much about it until Caleb Baumgardner, the communications pastor at Crossroads, taught me everything that I needed to know. Taking pictures at Crossroads was a way to get involved and serve while learning all these new things.”
It was around October when Reeves came across an interesting video of a police officer who had taken photos in the dark with his service vehicle’s lights on. Wanting to branch out and try to do something similar, she eventually landed on making calendars which would raise money for the Washington Police Department. The main issue at first was that due to the WPD being a governmental entity, it was not allowed to accept the money for the department, but WPD Chief Brian Hottinger and others at the department still wanted to give Reeves the chance to give back and suggested together they could raise money for the Shop with a Cop program.
“Shop with a Cop — which actually is its own non-profit now as of last winter — is a program where we receive funding through donations, grants or however and then we take that and partner with Walmart to spend it on children in the community for Christmas time based on lists provided to us,” Hottinger said on Thursday. “Whenever you see the officers who have facial hair running around, it isn’t because I am nice and let them grow it out, they pay towards the various fundraising efforts of the police department and are allowed to grow it out. That being said, we have guys around who don’t even grow facial hair and they still want to donate. The money goes to adopting families during the holidays, sponsoring the Steven Eric DiSario Memorial Scholarship and supporting Shop with a Cop. Thanks to the calendars and our work with Ali Reeves Photography, we managed to get a good amount of money to go toward the program.”
The process was not instant, but according to Reeves, within a day of the idea she approached Hottinger about what she wanted to do and how they could potentially get it done.
“Very quickly it went from me goofing off to let’s make calendars,” Reeves said. “At the time I didn’t know how I was going to do it or even if any of the officers would do it. I messaged the chief of police that night. So this all happened within a day. To make a very, very long story, and process short, I ended up getting Chief Hottinger’s approval and we decided to donate the proceeds to Shop with a Cop. This wasn’t an easy process. I got a sign-up list sent over and the officers started to sign up when they found out it was for Shop with a Cop. I messaged each individual officer and we set up times for them to show up to get their picture taken.”
Reeves said the first session included four officers: Lieutenant Matt Pfeifer, Patrolman Justin Everhart, Patrolman Ed Stapleton, and Patrolman Adam Phillips.
“They were all late,” Reeves said. “Every single one of them. In my head, I’m thinking ‘Oh great here we go. They probably think this is some big joke.’ Come to find out they were all getting haircuts. To me this meant everything. How sweet of them to get ready and look their best. I was so excited. What should have been a 15-minute session turned into a 45-minute session. These guys were so cool to hang out with. I think my favorite part about the photo-taking process was to see how the guys acted off duty. Everyone was so helpful. The guys were encouraging, respectful, and very eager. After all the calendars were sold and the money turned in the total donated was $1,000. I’m so thankful and excited that I got a chance to bless so many kids in the community with the help of the WPD, and the community.”
After the successful photo shoot, Reeves thanked her “sidekick through the whole thing,” Branelyn Jenkins. Additionally, she thanked Hottinger, the head of the Shop with a Cop non-profit, Mike Warnecke, and all the officers who participated in the calendar, including Patrolman Alex Rosado, Patrolman Justin Everhart, Lieutenant Matt Pfeifer, Patrolman Adam Rummer, Detective Warnecke, Patrolman Jason Copas, Patrolman Derrick Marcum, Patrolman Ed Stapleton, Patrolman Brown, Detective Mathew Ellis, K-9 Edo and his handler Charlie Hughes, and Patrolman Adam Phillips.
She also thanked the other calendar sponsors, Josh Creagan, L Priscilla’s, Back En Thyme, and Boutique on Main, as well as The Print Shop, for designing and printing the calendars, and “the guy who taught me everything I know, Caleb Baumgardner (Communications Pastor at Crossroads).”
“I plan on continuing to take pictures,” Reeves said. “I love it and meeting new people is so much fun. I wish I could say that the calendar fundraiser is going to become an annual thing but at this point, I’m not sure. I’m hoping to broaden my horizons and maybe get a calendar fundraiser put together for our local Fire Department or Sheriff’s Office and donate the proceeds to a charity of their choice.”
For more information, contact Ali Reeves Photography at (740) 505-7485, email at [email protected] or visit alireevesphotograp.wixsite.com/mysite.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 463-9684 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.