A new group in Wilmington is taking free photos of military members and their families.
The project, called Hearts Apart, aims to give back to men and women in uniform by giving them pictures of their families and loved ones to keep close to their heart while they're in harm's way.
Hearts Apart has been holding free photos shoots with military members. So far, the group has photographed ten military families living in our area.
Lee McCurdy, a Marine, and his wife, Christina, were photographed for the shoot. Lee will be shipping off to Afghanistan within the next months.
"Seeing his pictures, it just makes me so emotional because I'm so proud," Christina said of her husband's photos.
"My husband doesn't like to get his picture taken but he looked like a model!" she said.
Christina also got in front of the camera with acclaimed photographer Brownie Harris behind the lens. Harris has taken iconic photographs of John F. Kennedy, Junior, Andy Warhol and Miles Davis.
He is lending his skills to this project as a way to give back.
"You really see the impact of it and you really feel it," Harris said.
Local entrepreneur Brett Martin founded and is the executive director of Hearts Apart.
"As a local businessman, I realized I owed a debt to the military," Martin said. "We all know that they protect us and keep us safe. But they do more than that. They build an environment that allows us to businesses, to grow an economy."
With the pictures from the shoot, the group will give the military members a weather-durable bi-fold card that will fit in their chest pocket.
But there's a twist.
"On the outside, there will be pictures of their family, their children, their dogs," said Martin. "On the inside is an intimate picture, one for his eyes only."
Hearts Apart worked with a local Victoria's Secret store to provide sexy lingerie and bathing suits to the women for the shoot.
"It was fun," McCurdy said. "I wasn't uncomfortable. It was very classy. And the nice thing is the pictures are just for my husband."
She's hoping the pictures will help her husband get through the tough times - when he is serving in Afghanistan.
"I'll know that even though he is over there with all the really bad stuff that I don't want to think of, that he knows that people love him," McCurdy said.
Hearts Apart wants to take the program across the nation. They are looking for more sponsors and for other photographers to donate their time to the project. To learn more, log on to their website, www.heartsapart.org.