Some Vintage "Cheesecake" For The Boys Brings in Funds for Hospitalized Veterans
REDLANDS, CA.--- Gina Elise isn't a soldier. She's never going to go marching off to war. She's not halfway around the world, far from anything familiar, sleeping on hard ground in fear of attack. But Gina Elise has not forgotten those who do or those who did. Because of them, their service and sacrifice, she's made it her mission to bring awareness to America's troops, past and present.
In honor of all military service personnel, this spunky UCLA Phi Beta Kappa graduate put her heart and soul into designing a calendar fundraising project (http://www.pinupsforvets.com/
) that not only would bring in needed funds to support programs that care for ill and injured Veterans, but would also provide a gift of appreciation for these courageous hospitalized Vets, as well as bring a little bit of "the girl next door" in care package gifts to homesick troops deployed overseas.
The 2007 "Pin-Ups For Vets Calendar" is a saucy 1940's style "cheesecake" calendar featuring a blonde, redhead, and brunette Gina Elise (who also serves as the program's Pin-Up-In-Chief ) in a variety of provocative, but classy, poses surrounded by some classic vintage cars and World War II army vehicles. The calendar has been getting loads of positive coverage in newspapers and on legions of military and civilian websites.
"Over the past year, I have heard and read incredible stories about the injured troops returning from military service,"said Gina Elise. "Their hardest battles have just begun, as they attempt to recover in military and Veterans Hospitals all across America. I was touched by each story and knew that I had to try to do something to help our hospitalized Vets. I read recently in a report published by Harvard professor Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz, that for every fatality in Iraq, there are 16 injuries. That means we now have more than 50,000 wounded Iraq war soldiers. There is a growing tide of Veterans who are in urgent need of medical and disability care. Thousands of troops have crippling disabilities, such as brain or spinal injuries and many of them have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder. With statistics like this, I was more determined to get my calendar out to the public to try to focus their attention on our hospitalized Veterans, from all wars, past and present. They deserve our attention right now, more than ever. "
Gina Elise, who admits that she has never put together a calendar before, trudged on and encouraged a local American Legion Post ( #360 in Lake Arrowhead, CA.) to co-sponsor her project by lending their name, and then proceeded on to Wal-Mart to ask for funds. The Wal-Mart Foundation came back to Gina Elise and American Legion with a community grant to pay for part of the calendar's printing. She then mobilized all of her talented friends ( photographer, hair & make-up stylist, graphic designer for the calendar) and persuaded them to come on board this project and donate their time to help her beloved hospitalized Veterans. She even secured beautiful classic cars and 1940's military vehicles to help set the retro theme, studied up on those glamorous pin-up paintings and photos from that era, and immediately set to work on the 2007 "Pin-Ups For Vets" calendar fundraiser project.
Gina Elise's official website for the calendar sales received 17,000 hits in the first two weeks it went up on-line. People who have learned about the project are enthusiastically going on to the website to order calendars for themselves, for hospitalized Veterans, or for deployed troops. The calendars are $20 each, with proceeds going to programs that support hospitalized Veterans. Donations will help with, among other things, eyeglasses for Veterans, home health care, recreational therapy, spinal cord injury and amputee programs, substance abuse programs, chapel improvements, homeless Veterans programs, and reading materials. On the website, people will also learn about the need for volunteering in VA Hospitals and about the sending out of care packages to the deployed troops. Gina Elise will also begin posting pictures of her visits to the hospitalized Vets, and she will upload pictures of the troops in the field who have received her calendar, complete with personal notes from the donors.Besides being able to bring donated funds into a Veterans Hospital, Gina Elise is getting many hugs from the Veterans in the hospitals, who are surprised and happy to receive a "Pin-Ups For Vets" calendar along with notes of appreciation from the donors. "Their faces just light up, when they hear the notes of good cheer from the purchasers who have acknowledged their honorable service to our country," says Gina Elise proudly.
The pin-up calendars have been mailed to Navy ships and are packed into care packages to be sent to the deployed troops in Iraq and Afghanistan---all with personal notes that express a common desire for these service personnel to come home safely. Calendar purchases are also done through the mail, and checks for $20 can be sent to Gina Elise at P.O. Box 14, Redlands, CA 92373. Donors can send along their personal notes for the Veterans or for the deployed troops.
"The on-line websites have been such a wonderful way to spread the word about the 'Pin-Ups For Vets' calendar," said Gina Elise, "Because of the on-line blog world, I was contacted recently by a Marine Captain in Balboa, California. He invited me to come down and visit the patients at the Medical Holding Platoon there. There are 55 patients who were recently injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. I want to bring a calendar to each one of them. I'd like to find fraternal groups and philanthropic groups who can purchase several calendars for me to take on my visits to the hospitals. It's a fun gift that lasts for 12 months, and the Vets love seeing the girl in the photos actually delivering the calendars to them ! It really is an honor for me to do this." Gina Elise went on to say, "The purpose of the pin-ups from the '40's was to boost the morale of the soldiers going into war. The pictures reminded them of what they were fighting for back home. And hopefully the 'Pin-Ups For Vets' Calendar photos will boost the morale a bit for our brave hospitalized Veterans and deployed troops. They are really special people."
To order a calendar, go to : http://www.pinupsforvets.com/