Ed McMahon promotes DVD drive as a safe diversion for troops in Iraq

Friday, June 1, 2007

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Former longtime "Tonight Show" sidekick Ed McMahon is urging people to donate DVDs for U.S. troops in Iraq, saying movies offer a safe and comforting escape from wartime realities.

"This program accomplishes two things: The troops are entertained and they know that citizens at home care and support them," McMahon, 84, said Wednesday during ceremonies at the Palm Springs Airport's USO facility.

Operation DVD collects new and used DVDs to distribute overseas to U.S. military personnel. The year-old program has already collected more than 250,000 DVDs.

"This war in Iraq is unusual because soldiers never know where the next attack will come from. They need a safe mode of recreation since they become potential targets playing soccer or softball outdoors," McMahon said.

Operation DVD began when a soldier approached the Rev. Scott Dryden in Kansas last May requesting parishioners donate books and DVDs for fellow troops overseas. The group American Veterans -- AMVETS -- then signed on to the project.

Robert Boots, California spokesman for Operation DVD, said the goal is to eventually have 1 million DVDs distributed to U.S. troops with more than 200 titles in rotation at each base.

"The least we can offer them is some DVDs for entertainment so they can escape their realities for a while," Boots said.

Collection boxes are located nationwide at schools, retail stores, churches, and government offices. The Web site is www.operationdvd.us.

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