Collected with care Assemblyman Prieto sponsors DVD shipment to troops overseas

New Jersey State Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D – 32nd district – Secaucus) stood in the lobby of Commerce Bank on Paterson Plank Road and spoke about why there were hundreds of DVD’s collected at his feet.

“The American Veterans’ organization (AMVETS) put this forward to the Assembly,” he said. “I thought it was a great idea, so I jumped on it right away.”

Prieto, working together with Commerce Bank employees, managed to spur the collection of hundreds of new and used DVD’s as part of the AMVETS’ Operation DVD program. The nationwide program is designed to create safe entertainment options for troops serving overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan by creating DVD libraries donated by American citizens. The program’s goal is to create a constantly rotating library of 1 million DVD’s accessible on all American military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A worthy cause

One major factor of military life other than the obvious danger is boredom. When our soldiers abroad are not on patrol or in combat, there are many tedious hours spent in inclement weather far from home. Prieto discussed how Operation DVD is an attempt to help alleviate the monotony.

“The troops during their downtime can’t play softball or soccer because of snipers and other factors,” he said. “They have to have some sort of quiet, safe entertainment, and this provides that for them. We’ve gotten some positive feedback for the troops, which we appreciate. Everybody has been very supportive of the troops. The local video store gave us close to 100 DVD’s. One lady brought us a DVD player, never mind the DVD’s.”

Prieto noted that in some cases, the voices of support for the troops were even more personal.

“Some of the kids of the bank employees put notes for the troops in with the DVD’s,” he said. “I thought that was a very sweet way to let them know that everybody appreciates that they are in harm’s way every day and that we all appreciate what they are doing for us. It’s a wonderful cause.”

Bank supportive of effort

Eric Radell, the Commerce Bank retail market manager for Essex and Hudson counties, noted how his bank came on board to support the troops.

“Assemblyman Prieto mentioned this program to us,” he said. “We reached out to our employees and just got flooded with the response over the past few weeks.”

Monica McCormack-Casey, a bank vice president for government banking, also noted the high level of employee response to the call for DVD’s.

“We got 150 DVD’s in one day alone,” “We sent an e-mail to all of our employees, and they really responded.”

McCormack-Casey spoke about how the approaching holiday season was also considered during the collection drive.

“I was good timing for both Veterans’ Day and Thanksgiving,” she said. “Hopefully the troops will have them before Thanksgiving. It’s just a way for us to say thanks.”


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