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Congressman Denham to honor Cowell fifth-grader
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A single light in the dark, no matter how faint, goes a long way.

That’s what happened, in a metaphorical way, when a school project sparked by an idea of Joshua Cowell fifth-grader Genevieve Florez reached the office of Republican Congressman Jeff Denham.

Young Genevieve’s idea was simple: recruit students at her school to bring care-package items for American soldiers serving overseas and then present them to the Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II Memorial Troop Support Program for mailing. The presentation ceremony was held, aptly, during the Sept. 11 Patriot Day observance in the school’s Peace Garden with the parents of the fallen Marine soldier killed in Iraq, Charles and Teri Palmer, and Col. Adrian W. Burke, commander of the Defense Logistics Agency Defense Distribution Depot San Joaquin, as special guests and featured speakers.

The care-package items brought by students that morning filled dozens of boxes which were then mailed, also on the same day, to various American soldiers serving in various parts of the world by the Troop Support Program. Inside the care packages also were letters to the soldiers written by Joshua Cowell students.

Word about Genevieve’s idea and what the Joshua Cowell students did on Sept. 11 reached the office of Congressman Denham who will be at the school on Monday, Oct. 1, during the regular morning ceremony to present an award to the fifth grader.

“The Joshua Cowell story of our 9/11 celebration with Commander Burke and with the Charles Palmer family, as well as our collection of our care packages for soldiers was read aloud in Washington, D.C., at one of the Congressional sessions. Genevieve’s efforts are now recorded as part of the permanent Congressional record, part of U.S. history forever,” wrote Joshua Cowell School Principal Bonnie Bennett in an e-mail to the Manteca Bulletin.

In addition to presenting a recognition award to Genevieve, the Congressman will also present her with a proclamation in honor of her efforts.

Denham is no stranger to issues and concerns of America’s service men and women. After enlisting at age 17, the congressman served on active and reserve status for 16 years in the United States Air Force. For his service during the Operation Desert Storm in Iraq and Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, he received the meritorious medal. He pursued a career in agriculture following his graduation from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.