With the 10th Mountain Division preparing to send its soldiers back overseas, these holidays will be the last time many families are together for a while. So to lift the spirits of troops and their families, free professional portraits were taken at the USO on Fort Drum. YNN's Carmella Mataloni shared the day with some of the families taking part.
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Christopher Rich is one of the many soldiers preparing to deploy in January. With just a few precious weeks left to spend with family, he wanted something to hold onto.
"We haven't taken family photos in a long time and they gave us the opportunity to do it for free and it was pretty good," said Rich.
The event is called Portraits of Love. It was designed to give soldiers who are getting ready to deploy the opportunity to have their portrait taken with their loved ones and to have loved ones send portraits to deployed soldiers for the holiday season.
"It was actually really good. There was a lot more photo ops than we thought there would be. Different stands that you could walk through and they actually took good photos so we were surprised," said Rich.
Yaina Paris and her family also came out to have their pictures taken. She says when everyone is busy all the time, it's hard to find opportunities like this.
"It's nice because sometimes, not everyone has the time or can afford to get family photo. So it's just something nice to do with everyone together," said Paris.
This is the first year Portraits of Love events has been held on Fort Drum and coordinators say that it was so successful, that they actually had to add a third photographer.
In just two days, 130 families came through to have their photos taken. Volunteers who set up the event say it was beyond what they imagined.
“Within a couple of days, it turned into a bigger project that we were expecting. So it was just an idea to do something more local for the same benefit to benefit the troops.” said John Bentham, a volunteer photographer.
"I just think it's really nice of them, especially during this time of year, to recognize our military and give back to them," said Karen Clark, Director of USO Fort Drum.
Coordinators hope these photos will keep families close and their bonds strong during deployment.