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Cowell students join effort to support Americas troops
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Students at Joshua Cowell School will mark Patriot Day on Sept. 11 with a special patriotic presentation.

Adding to the significance of the event is the venue where the presentation will take place. The proud Cougars will be presenting boxes of “personal care” items for American soldiers serving overseas to Charles and Teri Palmer of the Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II Memorial Troop Support Program in the Peace Garden located in the school’s courtyard. The donated gifts will be mailed to various military personnel who are serving on the front lines overseas such as in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The project was the brainchild of Joshua Cowell fifth grader, Genevieve Flores, who brought up the idea to school Principal Bonnie Bennett at the beginning of the school year. Bennett contacted the Palmers for the list of things that can be packed for the troops, and the students have been collecting them since day one.

Approximately 70 students signed up to help start the Support Our Troops Club on campus.

Teri Palmer said the Memorial Troop Support Program will provide the postage to mail “whatever (the students) get packed.”

Box-packing parties for the all-volunteer program are held several times a year by various groups including students at different campuses like Joshua Cowell. In July, for example, a student group from one of the high schools in Manteca Unified sponsored one such event.

“They picked us up as their community project, and we packed the boxes with them,” Teri Palmer said. The party was held at the local bowling alley.

Another box-packing party was held at a Manteca home on the invitation of the family.

Teri Palmer said they are constantly looking for every opportunity to accommodate “anybody that wants to do something like that. We had churches adopt our troops. We are open to doing this any way we can to make it happen for our troops.

“We still have troops serving overseas, many of them local kids from here,” she added.

“We send boxes at least every other month. We got boxes going out one way or another,” she said.

Area service clubs like the Soroptimist International of Manteca have been major contributors to the Palmer’s ongoing effort.

“Soroptimist has, certainly, been a blessing,” Palmer said. “We’ve been blessed when (Soroptimist) Susie Beeler” started doing it, gathering care-package items for the troops overseas and raising money for the postage to mail them.”

Unfortunately, Beeler had to quit for health reasons. However, the service club still continues to help with postage money, Palmer said.

On Oct. 15, another packing party will be held at the American Legion Hall on East Yosemite Avenue from 2 to 5 p.m.

“Anybody that wants to join and help us would be welcome. They can also bring donations” in the form of personal-care items and money for postage, Palmer said.

Patriot Day is an annual observance in memory of the nearly 3,000 people who died during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 in New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It’s a day that many simply refer to as September 11 or 9/11.

The events of that day of terror played a big part in the decision of the Palmers’ son, Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II, to re-enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. The Manteca High graduate was killed in action in Khalidiyah in the Anbar province of Iraq on May 5, 2007.

The Memorial Troop Support Program was born from the ashes of that personal tragedy. After their son’s death, Charles and Teri Palmer and their entire family started the all-volunteer Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II Memorial Troop Support Program “to minister to other troops… offering the same sacrificial service to our great nation that their son… gave his life for, (and) to give everyday citizens an opportunity to reach out to active duty military personnel serving on the front lines defending our country,” according to the project’s official web site,

Anyone who knows a soldier serving oversees may give their names to the Palmers and a care package will be sent to them. Charles and Teri Palmer may be contacted by phone at (209) 239-3088 or by e-mail at or