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Dont forget our soldiers
Effort to collect items for soldiers part of 4-day celeberation
Soldiers Angels Pic
Leanna Galang of Soldiers’ Angels looks over the items that the group is in the process of collecting for overseas care packages. The nationwide non-profit with 30 chapters will be featured at the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend celebration at the Place of Refuge (formerly First Assembly of God) beginning on Friday, May 22. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL
It all seemed so simple for Leanna Galang when she first decided to adopt-a-soldier as her part to make sure that at least one person fighting for America’s freedom in the Middle East got a dose of home.

She had absolutely no idea that it would blossom into this – serving as the Community Team Leader for the Soldiers’ Angels national organization with the tri-county area that stretches from Merced to Lodi falling under her jurisdiction.

And as a recent Manteca newcomer, Galang started attending services at the Place of Refuge (formerly First Assembly of God). Not long after meeting active community pastor Mike Dillman began to take on a role within the church as her role within her service organization grew.

So when residents turn out this Memorial Day for Manteca’s regional four-day celebration paying tribute to veterans and those who have honorably served their country, they’re being asked to bring something to help Soldiers’ Angels with their task of assembling packages for soldiers who sometimes don’t’ see showers for weeks at a time in 130-plus degree heat.

“Right now we’re collecting everything from hard candy and beef jerky to baby wipes and Chap Stick – the things that the guys can really use when they’re out there in the field,” Galang said. “We’re so pleased that Pastor Dillman supported our cause and allowed us to be a part of this large gathering, and we’re hoping that the community will be extremely supportive.”

With a young son and another child on the way, Galang realizes that one of her children might end up overseas someday spending time in a war zone. It is something that troubled her after hearing from a friend that some of the soldiers had spent months without getting care packages containing items that most consider trivial but become downright luxurious in the harsh Middle East and Afghanistan terrain.

As a teacher, Galang says that she draws her inspiration from the young ones that send messages surely touching enough to make a grown man cry and from hearing the thanks of the soldiers themselves – some of whom are on their third tour.

“A lot of the people that we send packages to are from out of state so I don’t get a chance to see very many of the soldiers when they come home,” Galang said. “But there have been some that have flown out here and thanked me, and that really has meant the world and kept me going in this quest to make sure these men get both the supplies and the morale that run dangerously low in the desert.”

Items being collected when the Memorial Day Celebration at First Assembly beginning on Friday, May 22, include hard candy, beef jerky, chocolate-free trail mix, powdered drink mix (Gatorade, Propel, Crystal Light), baby wipes, chap stick, sun screen, and international calling cards. Financial donations that help cover the cost of shipping are also always accepted.

For more information about Soldiers’ Angels, visit the group’s website at, or call  Galang directly at 346-9696.