Several downtown businesses are working together to send some holiday cheer to troops overseas as well as raise funds for an organization to help those at home.


M.B. Jewelry & Beads and Chris’ Camera are teaming up in the project called “Operation Christmas Cards for Our Soldiers” to send cards to deployed troops which are $2 apiece. All of the proceeds from the cards will go towards the Augusta Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization that connects veterans and their families from around the CSRA with resources in education, the workforce, health and more.


Mary O’Hare, owner of M.B. Jewelry & Beads, has a son in the United States Army. She already had a lot of pride for the military and was grateful for what the troops do but with her son now a soldier and meeting others he trained with, O’Hare wanted to do more to help them.


O’Hare said that it’s important to let troops know, whether they are overseas or stationed somewhere in the country, that people appreciate what they do. Simply sending a card during one of the toughest times for them – when they’re so far from home during the holidays – can lift their spirits, O’Hare said.


“To receive a card from somebody, anybody, to let them know that we’re thinking of them – that means the world to them,” O’Hare said. “It really brightens their day to know that someone is thinking of them.”


O’Hare asked around to see if anyone else wanted to help her in the effort and Chris’ Camera stepped up by printing the cards with images of Aiken free of charge.


Trey Martin, Chris’ Camera store manager, said the effort means a lot to him because his brother serves in the U.S. National Guard.


Martin said he believes the troops deserve more praise than they have been getting, especially with all that they sacrifice on a daily basis.


“Honestly, I just want people to understand that there are others out there who can’t spend the holidays with their families,” Martin said. “We need to take care of them (the troops) and let them know that we’re thinking about them.”


A class from J.D. Lever Elementary School is getting involved, too. They will have their photo taken and Chris’ Camera will print out cards for the students to sign.


Cards will be available at M.B. Jewelry & Beads, Chris’ Camera, Ryan’s Deli and the Meybohm Realty downtown office, all located on Laurens Street.


Cards can be purchased until Nov. 14 and must be returned to O’Hare by that date so she can mail them off.