Tunes 4 the Troops reaches donation milestone

The millionth CD collected by Tunes 4 the Troops is ready to be shipped overseas to American soldiers.The CD was one of roughly 1,000 entertainment items packed by volunteers Saturday. For the organization’s founder, Tech sophomore Kaylee Radzyminski, these packing parties show the growth of Tunes 4 the Troops.

“When I first started Tunes 4 the Troops in high school I missed out on a lot because I was packing boxes all the time,” said Radzyminski, geographical information systems major. “Now that I’m here, the Service Center has played a huge role in keeping everything up. I’m able to relax and be a college student.”

The organization began 5 1/2 years ago when Radzyminsky gathered up her old 90s pop CDs to send to soldiers.

“I got to talking with some military personnel,” said Radzyminski, “and one of the things they said they missed while being overseas was entertainment. I collected all my CDs, and then I started asking my friends for their CDs. It eventually spread throughout my school, and it was a flowering process from there.”

Her efforts soon caught a lot of attention. Tunes 4 the Troops has been featured in various media, including Teen Vogue and CNN. This media coverage helps the organization grow and often leads to increases in donations.

Tunes 4 the Troops holds one packing party a semester, but they work year round collecting donations and working out logistics.

People have the option of collecting and shipping a box overseas themselves, but many simply ship entertainment items to Tunes 4 the Troops. The organization sends the donors thank-you cards and in kind letters for tax purposes.

Tunes 4 the Troops then ships the items to people who can distribute the entertainment materials among the soldiers.

Saturday’s packing party in the Multipurpose Room included Tech employees and students sorting items, filling out forms and packing boxes. A few young volunteers worked alongside college students twice their height.

Several members of the Tech football team helped to stack the heavy boxes onto carts and wheel them out.

“We came over as soon as we got out of practice,” offensive lineman Andrew Higgins said. “We’re trying to give back and get involved with the community a little more.”

Fifteen minutes into the packing party tall piles of CDs and DVDs covered the tables set up in the Multipurpose Room. Six hours later, the items were packed and ready to go with the exception of the special one millionth CD.

The CD was the newest Lynyrd Skynyrd album, God & Guns. Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Mark Matejka signed and packed the CD into the final box.

“Lynyrd Skynyrd is a huge supporter of our troops,” Matejka said. “Having the honor to sign the one millionth [CD] is quite a privilege. I want to thank Kaylee and Tennessee Tech.”

Relying on the philanthropy of others often means uneven amounts of needed supplies for Tunes 4 the Troops.

“One of the things that we’ve learned over the years is that we either have boxes to ship and no addresses or [instead we have] addresses and lots of money but no CDs and DVDs,” Kaylee’s mother Stephanie Radzyminski said. “[Currently] we’ve got addresses and boxes but we happen to be short on [monetary] donations.”

The response from troops makes Radzyminski feel that all of the effort is worthwhile.

“One letter [from the soldiers] said the day before my box got there that some of their guys came across an improvised explosive device,” Radzyminski said.

“It exploded, and they lost two soldiers. They said the box was a morale booster. Just being able to escape by listening to a CD or DVD to keep your mind off of things really helped them out.

“That’s what Tunes 4 the Troops is. It’s not about supporting the war or opposing the war. It’s about supporting the troops, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

To learn more about Tunes 4 the Troops or to make a donation, go to http://tunes4thetroops.org/.