Two Upstate teens are doing all they can to make sure veterans have a merry Christmas this year.
On their own time, they’ve decorated and collected thousands of holiday cards.
Asby and Abbi Cartee say their grandfather, Ronnie Ray, was their inspiration behind the big effort.
Ray is a veteran who served in the Army during the Vietnam War. He was wounded in combat.
“We were on patrol and the guy behind me stepped on a booby trap,” said Ray.
Those ten months in Vietnam earned him a Purple Heart and left him with a lifetime reminder of his sacrifice.
“I have little pieces of metal from my ankle up to about my shoulders,” said Ray.
His grandchildren took the admiration they have for him and decided to pass it along to others.
Several years ago, they started making cards and taking them to local VA hospitals during the holidays
The first year, Ashby and Abbi’s two classrooms decorated approximately 300 cards.
Now, four years later – they’re getting ready to deliver more than 17,000.
“It means a lot to me. I know what it’s like not to get mail,” said Ray.
Abbi branched out of her 8th grade classroom, going all the way to the superintendent of Spartanburg District 1 to help the project grow this year.
“I was so nervous but when he said he wanted to do it, I was like, ‘yes!,” said Abbi.
One card we stumbled across read, “Thank you for your service. We love you. TGIF — Thank God I’m Free.”
“I hope they feel pretty good because someone is thinking about them even though their family can’t get to see them. We’re thinking about them,” said big brother Ashby who goes to Landrum High School.
Ashby and Abbi’s mom, Allison Busbin, says she’s proud of her teenagers and hopes they both continue to give.
“We’ve always tried to teach them to not just be concerned about themselves, that there are other people in this world,” said Busbin.
The Cartees say the cards will go to veterans in Spartanburg, Greenville, Asheville, Anderson, and Columbia. Some have already started being delivered.