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Free music, movies for U.S. troops serving overseas

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DVDs and 'Tunes 4 the Troops'
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kaylee Radzyminski, a 2008 CNN Hero, is still shipping CDs and DVDs to U.S. troops
  • Her nonprofit, Tunes 4 the Troops, is about to send its 1 millionth disc overseas
  • The group is run out of Tennessee Tech University, the school Radzyminski attends
  • Radzyminski says she'll soon be a soldier herself; she's on an Army ROTC scholarship

(CNN) -- Five years ago, to show her gratitude for U.S. troops serving overseas, teenager Kaylee Radzyminski started sending them donated CDs and DVDs.

The project grew into her nonprofit, Tunes 4 the Troops, and she was recognized as a CNN Hero in 2008. At the time, she and her team had collected and shipped 200,000 discs.

This week, Tunes 4 the Troops celebrated a major milestone when it prepared its 1 millionth disc for shipment.

Radzyminski, now 19 and on an Army ROTC scholarship at Tennessee Tech University, spoke with CNN's Danielle Berger about reaching this goal.

Danielle Berger: Did you do anything special to mark this milestone?

Kaylee Radzyminski: We had a very special guest. One of the guitarists from Lynyrd Skynyrd (Mark Matejka) showed up at our packing party to actually pack the 1 millionth CD. The CD was actually a Lynyrd Skynyrd CD, and he signed it to the troops.

Berger: Where will these discs be headed?

Radzyminski: These CDs and DVDs will be going places all over the world.

Kaylee Radzyminski is now 19 and attending Tennessee Tech University on an Army ROTC scholarship.
Kaylee Radzyminski is now 19 and attending Tennessee Tech University on an Army ROTC scholarship.
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I know for a fact that we have boxes going to the Horn of Africa, which many people don't know (that) we do have troops there. They'll be going to Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of the boxes are going to military hospitals in Germany.

These CDs are going to all four military branches. They're going to everybody, because they all serve our country and are all greatly appreciated.

Berger: Why was it important to you to continue this work when you went on to college?

Radzyminski: With all the hard work that I had put in, I wanted to make sure it would continue after graduation from high school. The troops have always had a special place in my heart. I'd do anything for them ... because they sacrifice so much. Even when I graduate (college), there will still be troops serving overseas. When I graduate, I'll be one of them.

Berger: Tunes 4 the Troops is now based at Tennessee Tech. How does it work?

Radzyminski: Tunes 4 the Troops is part of the Service Learning Center here at the university, so there's basically a staff and student workers who volunteer for community service hours that are able to work on Tunes 4 the Troops. So this way, Tunes 4 the Troops will be able to continue even once I graduate.

It's a wonderful feeling. I'm very grateful for Tennessee Tech University. If I could do Tunes 4 the Troops all over again, there's absolutely nothing I would change, because it has made a difference in so many people's lives.

Berger: Around the holidays last year, Tunes 4 the Troops was included in a story on CNN.com about ways people could donate to charities without giving money. Did you see much response?

Radzyminski: After the CNN article on the 12 ways of giving, we got an increase in donations that helped us reach our 1 million goal. That was definitely one of the big things that helped us knock six months off our goal of collecting 1 million CDs and DVDs. (And) we got some local artists and major record labels to donate as well. It got the word out there that we are still doing this.

To donate to Tunes 4 the Troops, visit its website at www.tunes4thetroops.org. To read the original story about Radzyminski, visit her archive page at CNNHeroes.com.

 
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