TAMPA (FOX 13) - There are hundreds of children in the Bay Area who are waiting to be adopted. And a local organization is giving these kids a face, a voice, and a place to shine.
Every picture on the Heart Gallery shows the face of a foster child in Hillsborough County. Each one, so desperate for family, they're willing to put their photo out there for the whole Bay Area to see.
"These are kids that have been abused, neglected, abandoned -- but through no fault of their own. And they are in the Heart Gallery because they deeply desire a family. They still have hope. They're really great kids, they're wonderful kids," said the Children's Board Heart Gallery of Tampa's Jesse Miller.
They’re kids like 16-year-old Solomon and his 14-year-old sister Lyanna, who are waiting and praying for their forever family.
"They are so important to each other. They help each other stay on track; they look out for each other. They have a very special bond," said Jesse.
Their picture, and so many others, are part of the Children's Board Heart Gallery of Tampa's traveling exhibit and on display at local malls, churches, and airports across the Tampa Bay area.
"We are introducing kids to the public at large. We want people to know that these kids live here and they need your love and support," continued Jesse.
It's more than just pictures; there are pamphlets for each child describing their likes and interests and what they hope for in a family. There's even a special recording of each child's voice.
"They're at the mall or a place that the public might not think they'd encounter this and all of a sudden there's these photographs of these beautiful kids that look like their kids, that go to school with their kids, but never knew they existed," said Jesse.
One of them is 13-year-old Janiya. She's been in the foster system all her life and holds out hope that she'll be adopted soon.
"I just need somebody to come close to me and hug me and just be a mom and tell me that everything is going to be OK. Because I never had that. So I hope the family that adopts me will just give me a chance," said Janiya.
It's the one wish that every child in the Heart Gallery has: To be a part of a family and for a place to finally call home.
LINK: For more Heart Gallery information: https://heartgallerytampa.org
More info: http://www.eckerd.org/