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Mideast edition, Thursday, September 6, 2007

A Los Angeles model and a group of local veterans are again trying to help today’s wounded troops with a morale-booster from decades past.

California’s American Legion Post 360 and Gina Elise recently released their 2008 Pin-ups for Vets calendar, a collection of 1940s-era pictures with Elise in teasing period costumes.

This is the second year for the project — last year, the 25-year-old’s similarly skimpy poses helped raise about $5,000 for a local California veterans hospital’s programs for Iraq and Afghanistan troops.

And that figure didn’t include hundreds of calendars donated to servicemembers worldwide. Elise said, this year, the group is hoping for even better results, based on the following she developed last year.

“The troops really embraced the calendar project, ordering calendars not only for themselves but for me to personally deliver on my visits to the VA and military hospitals,” she said.

“Those personal messages of appreciation on the donated calendars to our hospitalized vets and to our deployed troops meant so much to the recipients.”

The calendar project is funded solely through sponsors and donations, so all the profits can go to veterans programs, Elise said. Friends donated photography skills, sets and costume expertise to help finish the calendar.

Elise said everyone involved behind the scenes has been working to expand the project, reach more wounded troops and better serve those stationed in combat zones.

She already has plans this year to visit new military hospitals and deliver the new calendar as well, and said others behind the project are collecting addresses of troops overseas so they can send care packages.

“It is so important for our vets and troops to know that we all appreciate their honorable service to our country,” she said. “Every civilian I have spoken with expresses their utmost gratitude for our military, and everyone wants our troops to come home safely.”

For more information or to order a calendar, visit www.pinupsforvets.com.

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