Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gifts Show Support for Troops; Woman Didn't Want Unit to Feel Forgotten

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gifts Show Support for Troops; Woman Didn't Want Unit to Feel Forgotten

Article excerpt

Byline: Mary Maraghy, County Line staff writer

Orange Park resident Malissa Palmer was angry when she read news reports about Jacksonville failing to honor its commitment to an Army company from the 101st Airborne Division stationed in Iraq.

"I was very upset. These guys are from here," said 34-year-old Palmer, a student at St. Johns River Community College and president of the school's Phi Theta Kappa chapter. "How can you not follow through?"

Palmer, who spent six years in the U.S. Air Force as a jet mechanic, put up signs around her campus and at area businesses Nov. 7, requesting items for the troops. She recruited her Phi Theta Kappa chapter to help.

By Nov. 26, she had boxes and bags full of disposable razors, shaving cream, deodorant, books, magazines, footballs, candy, calendars, CDs, Christmas decorations, Christmas cards and playing cards. Several boxes came from the college's Palatka campus.

"I'm speechless," she said last week, as she sorted through the boxes. "This is phenomenal. This is saying, 'Hey, we aren't forgetting you.' "

Palmer contacted radio station WFYV-FM (Rock 105), which has also been collecting. Station officials agreed to ship Palmer's stuff along with theirs.

Palmer has stopped collecting items at the college, but she encourages others to send donations on their own.

Gordon Chevrolet at 1166 Blanding Blvd. is collecting items today.

"We have a Blazer in the showroom we are filling up. The backseat is full of boxes of stuff," said Renee Crooks, inventory clerk at the dealership.

Former Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney issued a proclamation adopting the unit under the America Supporting Americans program. Delaney's administration began setting up the program, but it was overlooked in the changeover after Mayor John Peyton took office in July.

Palmer, though she was never in the infantry, said she could relate to the troops. …

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