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Record 117 care packages for troops
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Chuck and Teri Palmer help collect donated care package items at Friday’s Patriots Day at Joshua Cowell Elementary School.

Chuck and Teri Palmer were overwhelmed by the generosity of the youngsters at Joshua Cowell Elementary School.

At Friday’s annual Patriots Day, they brought care package items from home to help support the Troop Packing & Donation Drive.

Principal Christie Newman was also wowed by the outpouring from her students. “It’s always a surprise (since they wait for the last minute),” she said.

Patriots Day at Joshua Cowell started over seven years ago when then fifth-grade student Genevieve Flores wrote a letter to her principal Bonnie Bennett on making a difference in the world. The youngster did so by donating $20 to the Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II Memorial Troop Support Program.

That’s the non-profit organization by the Palmers in memory of their late son. During the past 10 years, the local box-packing efforts for U.S. troops stationed abroad have shipped nearly 24,000 boxes.    

Those numbers continue to climb thanks to the support of students at Joshua Cowell and others. The stduents packed 117 care packages on Friday — a new record. It’s up from last year when they provided 101 packages for the effort.

“We’re proud that you remember our heroes,” said Teri Palmer at the morning outdoor gathering. She referenced First Responders, police and fire as being among that group.

No doubt, the care packages are a hit among the troops.

“It always made my day a lot better,” said Nicholas Brown, who is the nephew of Joshua Cowell fourth-grade teacher Jerri Brown.

He and World War II veteran Leo Richetta and wife Nellie were among the special guests at this year’s Patriots Day.

Brown, who spent 5 ½ years in the U.S. Army, was in Germany when he received his care packages from home.

Along with the contents – hygiene products, games, high-protein snacks, etc. – he enjoyed the letters from students.

“They would ask me: ‘what’s your favorite dinosaur’ or ‘what’s your favorite food,’” Brown recalled.

Newman, in addition, announced the re-dedication of the Peace Garden.

The one at Joshua Cowell is one of 180,000 registered internationally, she said.

Among those who have contributed to the Peace Garden are “students, family members and honored guests” at the school, according to Newman.

Among the upcoming troop packing events is one set for Thursday, Oct. 25, at the Manteca Transit Center. The City of Manteca as well as Doctors Hospital is involved. The Palmers are hoping to get non-profits and other groups to help as well.

It is the packing event that covers the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. They hope to have at least 350 boxes that they can ship. Typically an event will generate more than 100 boxes.

For more  information, contact Teri Palmer at (209) 627-5146 or Chuck Palmer at (209) 627-5147. You can also email or go to

Items needed are listed at Monetary donations to help with shipping can be made on the website via PayPal. Donations of items and funds can also be dropped off at:

Freedom Smog, 195 S. Union Road, Manteca, behind the McDonald’s, Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Freedom Smog, 2660 Patterson Road, Riverbank, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Freedom Smog, 830 Kansas Avenue C1, Modesto, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

SalonCentric, 3214 W. Grantline Road, Tracy, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Manteca Senior Center, 295 Cherry Lane, Manteca, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.