Galloway’s Timothy McKenna, 19, has handled firearms much of his life. He and his siblings learned to hunt with their dad, Tim McKenna, the township’s supervisor for sewer and water lines and newly elected fire chief.

“He never thought twice about picking up a gun,” said mom, Holly McKenna.

But since joining the Army in February and deploying to Afghanistan in August, the sound of a gunshot has a new meaning for the teen: It brings him to immediate vigilance, even from a deep sleep, he told his mother.

Timothy had talked about joining the military since childhood, and in spite of the stress — he saw his first IED explode and injure an Afghan recently — he tells his parents he loves what he is doing.

He patrols with Afghan police in Kandahar. Recently, he helped remove large amounts of illegal fertilizer used to make bombs from a civilian’s home. The McKennas are keeping in touch with their son through Facebook and regular phone calls, Holly said.

Timothy also is in contact with Afghan children, who hang around the soldiers asking for small gifts such as pens, Holly said. He is a 2011 graduate of Absegami High School and a volunteer firefighter for the Oceanville Volunteer Fire Company. Todd and Brian Storr of JD’s Pub and Grill in Smithville and the McKennas are collecting supplies such as muscle pain patches, hand warmers, toiletries, winter socks and snacks for Timothy’s troop, which will be back in the U.S. in early 2013, Holly said.

‘Gamers’ film wins

Christine Farina, 42, an associate professor in Communications at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, received the Best Documentary Feature award for her film "Gamers," at the Downbeach Film Festival in Atlantic City last weekend.

"Gamers," about people who play everything from video to fantasy and role-playing games, was also shown at the Philly Fringe festival in September and at World Café Live, a representative for Farina said. It will be shown in Philadelphia at the science fiction, fantasy, and horror conference Philcon 2012 in November, she said.

Playground work

Vincent Borrelli, 16, helped stencil playing areas for hopscotch, handball and walking track at St. Joseph Regional Elementary School in Hammonton, when he was a student there years ago. This weekend, the Winslow Township Boy Scout was re-stenciling all the games at the school as his major project toward becoming an Eagle Scout.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:

609-272-7219