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Volunteers pack 155 packages for soldiers
Doctors Hospital of Manteca CEO Ikenna Ike Mmeje, left, is thanked by Terri Palmer during Thursdays Charles O. Palmer Troop Support Program packing event.

On paper the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are over. 

But as Chuck Palmer can attest, the United States military has plenty of people still serving in the former Middle East war theater who still get homesick and request some of the smallest comforts to make their time in the desert just a little bit easier. 

And naturally, Palmer – and his crew of volunteers that can total more than a hundred on a given day – are more than willing to comply. 

On Thursday the Manteca Gold Star Father – who lost his son Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II to a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2006 – was on hand with the dedicated crew that have turned the Cpl. Charles O. Palmer Memorial Troop Support program into the juggernaut that it is, packing 155 care packages that will be distributed to overseas troops with a little something to raise their spirits as they’re away from home. The packing event took place at the Manteca Transit Station.

While most people would ask for creature comforts, it’s the little things – the socks and the baby wipes and the coffee packets and the water enhancers – that make all of the difference when you’re surviving off of water and the only shower that you get sometimes for months on end comes from pre-moistened towelettes. 

“They’ve pulled a lot of the stuff out of there that the troops used to use like the kitchens and the shower facilities and even the air conditioning, so they’re having to get by with what they have,” Chuck Palmer said after securing a load of packages in the back of his truck. “We hear all the time how happy these troops are to get something from back at home because it reminds them, especially now, that they’re not forgotten and that there are still people out there supporting them.”

And right now the non-profit that has dozens of dedicated volunteers that show up to the packing events every single month to offer help any way they can is gearing up for a busy holiday season where packages – that cost almost $17 each to send to their respective recipient – will bring a much needed morale boost to those who are away from their families and their friends during the season that’s centered around specifically that. 

Through individual donations, business support and those who donate financially to help supply the items, the group is able to nail down the majority of what it is that they need in order to supply the list of troops that hasn’t dwindled down despite a reduced role in the certain Middle Eastern countries in the last several years. 

“Those guys are still there, and they still need a little morale boost every now and then,” Palmer said. “We’re blessed here with a community that supports us and a group of people that would literally follow us anywhere to make this a reality. 

“When these boxes come from Manteca it shows that this is a patriotic city and that the people here care about them and support them, and that’s what it’s all about.”

A large contingent of volunteers came from American Legion Post 249, Doctors Hospital and the City of Manteca.


To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.