Valencia County calendar project highlights the talent of local kids

Local News

BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – Children in Valencia County are getting behind the camera and capturing their homes and lives through a new project. Their stunning images will now help other children in their community.

‘Valencia County, Through the Eyes of Our Children’ started off as a photo contest by the Rio Communities Optimist Club. After seeing the quality and number of photos that came in, they’ve instead created a calendar.

“One of our members had an idea of doing a photo contest for the kids, that’s basically what the Optimist Club is for, children, the youth members. We had the idea of doing a photo contest so we took it one step further and go and have the contest, then select the photos and do a calendar. It’s part of a fundraising event and also kind of showcasing the children of Valencia County and the picture that they’ve taken,” said Steve Togami, a member of the Rio Communities Optimist Club. “It’s a mix of sunsets, of the mountains, there’s some close-ups of their pets, close-up of flowers. It’s definitely a mix and that’s what we wanted to incorporate into the calendar.”

The only requirement of the photo contest was that the children live in Valencia County. Togami says there was a good mix of ages and kids from Los Lunas and Belen schools.

Proceeds from calendar sales will fund children’s activities in Valencia County like Santa Claus visits at Christmas, a Lego Robotics Camp and a children’s fair. The Rio Communities organization is fairly new, but they hope this fundraiser will let others know they’re already at work and open for people to join and contribute their own ideas to help the community.

“Our Rio Optimists Club is relatively new, so we’re kind of starting different things and trying to get the word out to the community that we’re here, we’re here for the kids,” said Togami. “So if people have ideas, things we can do for the children, that’s what we’re here for.”

The organization hopes to continue this photo contest next year and is already toying around with different ideas like holding an art show. The calendars are $7 each. Those interested in buying one can email them at

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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