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Amvets in NJ collects DVDs for servicemembers

As a part of an ongoing national campaign, American Veterans Post 911 in Somers Point is doing its part to collect DVDs to mail to servicemen and women overseas.

"We've shipped 3,000 to 4,000 DVDs in the last year," said Fred Vineyard, the Amvets Post 911 second vice commander.

The local drive, in its second year, has had much success due to the public, the Egg Harbor Township resident said. Restaurants and businesses, including Chester's Pastry Pantry Bakery in Somers Point, have agreed to allow DVD collection boxes to sit at their doors.

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Amvet Post 911 vice commander, John Dingenheimer, of Somers Point, helps coordinate the drop-off spots as well as package the new and used DVDs, helping to fulfill his responsibility to aid the troops.

"Everybody has a role to support our troops, and this effort is DVDs to send over to them," he said.

And a simple movie to a civilian sometimes means much more to the people defending the country, Vineyard said. A local soldier serving in Afghanistan sent a letter to the Somers Point veterans group last week, thanking them for their efforts.

Vineyard said the Marine and his fellow soldiers have begun experiencing colder weather, and spending time outdoors has become a less desirable option, making the DVDs a treasured gift.

"My office over the last week has turned into sort of a Blockbuster," Vineyard read from the letter.

Vineyard, having served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, knows firsthand the experience a movie can bring. He recalled having access to one film a week during his deployment and admitted to watching the same movie repeatedly.

"These men and women, they all have downtime, and a lot of times they can't do very much because they're in a war zone," Vineyard said. "But, if they have a few minutes and they can watch a movie, it gives them something to watch. It's a recreation thing that helps them."

"It's a change in their daily routine," agreed Dingenheimer.

The veteran's group also does its job in keeping it local, making efforts to send a collection of movies to those serving from neighboring areas.

"If somebody says, 'Hey, I have a son (or) daughter serving,' we get their address and we ship them a box of DVDs, and they can pass it around to their friends," Vineyard said. The DVDs have been successfully sent to the Navy's USS Enterprise, USS Lincoln, USS Ramage, USAF units, U.S. Army units and U.S. Marine units. Collections are taking place year-round, and shipments are made every few weeks, Vineyard said.

"It costs us $16 a box to ship them, but it's worth it. It's what we do, you know?"

How to help

To donate new or good condition DVDs to military personnel overseas, deposit them in the boxes at Chester's Pastry Pantry Bakery, 506 New Road, Somers Point; Bennett Chevrolet, 6721 Black Horse Pike, Egg Harbor Township; and Essl's Dugout Restaurant, 7001 Black Horse Pike, Pleasantville.

Cash donations will be accepted to help defray the cost of mailing DVDs to the troops. Checks made payable to "AMVETS Post 911 NJ" can be sent to AMVETS Post 911 NJ, PO Box 413, Somers Point, NJ 08244.

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