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W. Babylon man collects sports equipment for troops

Joe Regina, of West Babylon, is collecting sports

Joe Regina, of West Babylon, is collecting sports equipment to send to troops overseas. (June 21, 2011) Credit: Erin Geismar

Joe Regina has big plans for the small pile of sports equipment stored in his garage.

Currently, it’s just two bags of baseballs and softballs, a few baseball bats and two tennis rackets. But Regina hopes the donated sports equipment -- when he gets more of it -- will be a source of recreation for troops overseas and a way for them to interact with Middle Eastern and central Asian youth.

“One of these big things that came out of World War II was that we introduced Europe to baseball,” said Regina, a Vietnam veteran and a member of the American Legion Post 1634 in West Babylon.

Regina, of West Babylon, hopes his sports equipment drive will have a similar impact, giving the troops something to do on their down time and possibly introducing the great American sport to the youth in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Regina, who organized a successful clothing drive through the legion recently, said he heard that two members of the West Babylon Fire Department who are currently serving overseas specifically requested baseball equipment.

He’s received a few donations so far and is expecting a large donation from a shuttered sporting goods store in Bethpage and from a woman whose late husband was a sports coach.

John Walpole, a member of the legion, said the equipment will be sent to the West Babylon troops’ units in Iraq and Afghanistan and distributed from there. He said the drive is a way to take care of troops' needs while they are serving the country.

“They’re our guys and girls,” he said.

Equipment donations can be dropped off between 10 a.m. and noon on Saturdays at the American Legion, 10 Bruce St., West Babylon. For more information, call Regina at 631-669-3931 or 631-422-5211.

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