Chuck and Terri Palmer’s mission to supply deployed troops with a little taste of home is expanding.
Next weekend the Manteca couple – the parents of Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II, who was killed in Iraq – will base their troop-packing event that sends boxes with slices of home comfort to those across the globe in Tracy for the first time.
And it’s all thanks to the volunteers who spend both their time and their money making sure that the packages – 80 of which went out the last time that an organized effort was underway – get to their destination.
According to Gold Star Father Chuck Palmer – who founded the Charles O. Palmer II Memorial Troop Support Program with his wife Terri to keep their son’s memory alive – It’s the support of the volunteers and the community that have allowed the program to flourish in Manteca and reach other nearby communities like Tracy through word-of-mouth.
“The growth of what we’re doing is based on the volunteers that we have – people that will follow us anywhere we go,” Palmer said. “We have 30 or 40 volunteers that are like that, and we can always count on about 20 of them to be there at any event to help get things going.
“If we didn’t have that support we wouldn’t be able to do this. We can’t do this alone and it is these volunteers that make this all possible.”
Putting together care packages is no easy task.
Donations that are made by supporters and agencies like the Second Harvest Food Bank help provide the bulk of what goes into the boxes. Each one costs money to ship to individual service members who signup for the service, and that money is raised either through fundraising, donations or out of the pockets of the people who believe in the effort.
It often takes hours to fill all of the boxes, and although things have been trimmed down to a science, putting the care into the package is always what shines through for the tired and weary troop that opens it up.
“We have several of what we call ‘community collaborators’ that are helping to make this event a reality,” said Terri Palmer. “Representatives from the All-American Beatty Pageant and the Miss and Mr. Inspirational American Pageant will be helping us, and the Tracy Fire Department was nice enough to donate their building for us to use.
“We find that everywhere we go there are new people that come in that have always wanted to be able to do something like this but never knew how. They’ll hear about something after it’s happened and they come and find out what they can do the next time to help. A lot of places will send packages at Christmas time or for major holidays but they want to do something that takes place all-year and this is that – we’re so blessed to have that kind of support.”
On Saturday, November 21, the organization will hold its first ever Tracy troop-packing event at the Tracy Fire Department’s administration building at 835 Central Avenue starting at 11 a.m. Advance donation of correspondence items, personal hygiene products, small games, high-protein snacks, seasonings and condiments and personal grooming effects can be made American Legion Post 172 in Tracy, Smog Tech in Manteca, Freedom Smog in Modesto or Armor Up in Tracy.
The group is also planning a fundraiser – to raise money to pay for the shipping supplies, postage, and items to be sent – on Dec. 19th at the Manteca Transit Center. Known as Christmas and Caring, the event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will feature music from Jim Anderson and the Rebels and a dinner of either prime rib or salmon catered by Texas Roadhouse in Tracy. Tickets for the event, which cost $75 each or $600 for a table of eight, can be purchased by contacting Palmer at 209.239.3088. A PayPal account under “Cpl. Palmer” is also available for people who wish to donate.
For more information visit www.cplpalmertroopsupport.com.