This holiday season, Laurel Main Street business owner Cindy Senter says she will remember her mother with a collection box for donations to the United Service Organizations, or USO.
Following the death of her mother, Marian Klein, in October, Senter said she and her daughter, Kari, wanted to keep her memory alive through a family-oriented organization. Senter said both family and charity were important to Klein, who was 92.
The donation box was set up on Nov. 25 at Senter's shop, Chamber Room, which sells indoor and outdoor home decor, jewelry, swords, knives and flags.
"I wanted to have customers, people or whoever donate different things, like blankets, gloves, hats, toys; anything they would like to see service families receive," Senter said. "[Donations] will go to the deployed service men and women who are coming back and might not have time or resources for their families."
Inside the gift shop, customers will find a 4-foot-tall cardboard box covered in decorative wrapping paper, where some donations have already been made. Topped with red, green and silver bows, a small framed painting of a tree was also placed on top of the box, with Klein's name printed below, and a small teddy bear holding a menorah in recognition of the family's Jewish heritage.
In Senter's 14 years of working on Main Street, she said people got to know Klein during the mother and daughter's frequent walks.
No perishable items are accepted, Senter said, but customers who donate will receive discounts.
"Anybody who donates, we're going to give them an extra 5 percent off above what their discounts are," Senter said. "We're going to present this to the USO the week before Christmas."
Kari Senter said her grandmother would be proud of their efforts.
"I think it's wonderful what [my mom's] doing; even more wonderful that she's doing it in my grandmother's name," Kari Senter said. "She loved to give to charities, definitely at this time of year."
While there is still more time to donate, the Senter family said they're looking forward to helping service families in need.
"They're near and dear to our hearts because they're protecting us," Cindy Senter said.
The collection box will be at the store until mid-December.