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Sold-out crowd for troop snacks fundraiser
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Jack Bellew made a point to welcome Alan Sanchez of Good Morning Sacramento during the “All-American” buffet dinner Saturday night where a standing room only crowd was welcomed by the young man. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin
Seven -year-old Jack Bellew has already made his mark on the world with some 100 people showing up Saturday night at Isadore’s Restaurant to help raise funds to send his snack packs to troops serving overseas.

Some even came dressed in bright red T-shirts emblazoned with “I know Jack” in his drive to make life a little better for today’s soldiers in the field.

Dressed in U.S. Army fatigues, Jack sat at a table with a friend – who was a girl – but with that said, he was adamant she was NOT a “girl friend.”  He’s just too young for that kind of stuff, he said.  Supporters came from as far away as Merced and the Bay Area filling the restaurant to a standing room only capacity with some having to be turned away at the door.

There were numerous residents from the Del Webb community who were at the restaurant Friday night – when Jack was there too – who couldn’t attend but who bought the $20 tickets anyway to support Jack’s efforts that have already seen some 300 packages shipped out in his name.

Also sitting with him at his table was “Raider Jerry,” a U.S. Army vet who served in Germany and now is carrying on his own campaign through the efforts of the Blue Star Mothers to collect and send socks to the troops.  Anyone having served in the field knows how valuable extra pairs of socks can be to the basic health of a soldier’s feet.

While walking through the dinner crowd, Jack spent some time talking with Alan Sanchez of “Good Morning Sacramento” who was there to show his support of the young man and his team.

A retired U.S. Army nurse, Virginia Schumacher of Manteca, told Jack a little about her 27-year career that took her from a MASH surgical tent in Korea and eventually to a Veterans’ Administration hospital in Palo Alto.  Schumacher demonstrated a keen interest in what Jack is doing and what he will be doing for the troops in the future.

Soldiers write
letters of thanks
The snack packs have been sent to unit first sergeants to distribute to their soldiers.  An enclosed letter told of Jack’s campaigning for them.  It also stated that each package contains a warm pair of socks, or a black beanie and some of Jack’s favorite snacks: an assortment of gum, granola bars, powder Gatorade, peanuts and jerky sticks among a list of other items.

Several letters from appreciative soldiers were posted on a display board at the dinner.

One was from a Sergeant First Class John E. Heintzelman who spoke for his men who had received some of Jack’s snack packs.

“Hello Jack….I just received some of the care packages you sent and they are great!  I am a platoon sergeant in the 173rd ABCT from Vicenza, Italy.  My platoon and I are currently at a remote area in Afghanistan and supplies are not readily available.  The boxes you sent are such a big morale boost for my men.  

“When I presented your packages to my soldiers, their eyes lit up like it was Christmas.  They were so excited and very thankful for people like you.  You are the reason why we are here fighting for America’s freedom.  Some people take this freedom for granted, but not you!

“At age six you have it all figured out!

People can learn from you and your ambition.  If you are like this now…I can only imagine what you will be like when you get older.  My hat is off to you and I SALUTE YOU!  Keep up the good work and I personally want to thank you so much for all you are doing for us.”

Members of a U.S. Army Airborne unit – Legon Company – just arriving in Afghanistan wrote to say the packages and letters “give our troopers strength and encouragement” to carry out their mission.  

“I can say without hesitation that our paratroopers are very thankful for your support as they serve in a combat-ready, professional organization that thrives in adversity.  I hope that you have the opportunity to read about our unit on the 173rd ABCT website,” one commander wrote.

Jack’s effort began when a favorite Uncle Matt was injured in Afghanistan.  Jack had followed his assignments and location from the time he had entered the Army to his part in the 173rd U.S. Airborne.  The youngster kept a world globe next to his bed and marked the location of his uncle when he went from base to base worldwide.

His uncle inspires
Jack into action
It was Uncle Matt who would receive Jack’s first snack pack in his supportive venture.  Following that injury, Jack asked if he could send snacks to his uncle’s fellow soldiers – it has evolved from there.  It was hoped that the Saturday night dinner would raise enough donations for Jack and his team to send out another 500 snack packs.  Jack’s family members said they were expecting maybe 25 to 30 at the dinner and when nearly 100 packed Isadore’s they were all in awe.

Jack has personally sold baskets filled with Rice Crispie treats at $3 a pop and snow men ornament sales as well at Christmas time that added to his war chest for the troops.  It was the snow men that underwrote most of the hundreds of packs sent out in January.  The $900 in sales were with the help of a Waterloo restaurant whose employees, customers, friends and family helped with their donations and in the packing of 130 snack packs in an outside patio area.

Jack’s is focused on being a member of an airborne unit – a paratrooper like his Uncle Matt – and eventually a California High Patrol officer.

Those wanting to follow Jack’s campaign may check out his web site at On Face Book he is under, “I know Jack and he supports our troops.”