Old-school pinup calendar raising cash for veterans
By LEO SHANE III | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 9, 2007
WASHINGTON — Gina Elise wants to raise money for wounded troops, and she’s not afraid to show some skin to do it.
With the help of local veterans, the 24-year-old Californian is selling pinup calendars — complete with her in 1940s-themed skimpy outfits — to benefit hospitalized veterans.
“They all love it,” she said, noting that she has received orders and fan mail from troops all over the world. “I just really wanted to do something to help these heroes, and this seemed like a fun way to do it.”
Elise said she’s not shy — she was a theater major in college, and works as special events scheduler for a Los Angeles hotel — but needed a little prodding from the veterans at her local American Legion Post to put together the calendar.
Friends donated the costumes, sets and photography skills, and a grant from the Wal-Mart foundation helped pay for printing. Nicholas Nerio, first vice commander of American Legion Post 360, said post officials were happy to put their name on the fundraiser.
“We had to be careful with some of those photos,” he said, laughing. “But if she was willing to put that work into it and help out those veterans, we wanted to help, too.”
So far she has sold about 200 copies of the calendar in the past two months, with many of the buyers asking her to simply donate the calendars to area hospitals instead of shipping it to them.
Elise said she has hand-delivered several of those to local veterans, giving her a chance to thank them personally, and sent a number of others into Iraq.
“The purpose of the pinups in the ’40s was to boost the morale of troops going to war, and hopefully that’s what we can do with this,” she said. “So far, they love it.”
Nerio, a Vietnam veteran, called the calendar “just another reminder of what they’re fighting for, and the kind of people who support them.”
Elise is hoping to pick up more donations by this weekend, so she can take dozens of free calendars with her for a tour of southern California military hospitals.
The charity has identified a number of programs for both recently separated and older veterans: amputee rehabilitation, home health care efforts, and an “eyeglasses for veterans” drive, among others.
The calendars cost $20 each. Elise hopes the program raises not only cash for those programs but also enough interest to do another calendar next year.
“I’ve already started getting ideas from troops overseas about what to put in the 2008 edition,” she said.
For more information, or to order a calendar, visit www.pinupsforvets.com.