Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Office Taking Care of Loved Ones in Iraq; Clerk of Court Employees Are Sending a Care Package to One Person Each Month to Boost Morale

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Office Taking Care of Loved Ones in Iraq; Clerk of Court Employees Are Sending a Care Package to One Person Each Month to Boost Morale

Article excerpt

Byline: DEBORAH CEARNAL, County Line staff writer

Cheese crackers with peanut butter may not sound like much of a treat to some, but to others they are manna from heaven.

The crackers -- along with other goodies -- are being shipped to Clerk of the Court employees' friends or relatives serving in the military overseas.

The goodwill gesture began in November, when the county office's social committee -- a group made up of one person from each of the clerk's eight departments -- met to decide on a project to "keep morale up," said LaShonda Hampshire, who works in the child support office and who is coordinating the drive.

Each month, Hampshire e-mails colleagues, seeking a person to sponsor. Once the person is chosen, Hampshire has the nominator get a wish list from the recipient. For the next month, food and other items are collected for that person. At the end of the month, Hampshire collects money for postage and on her break treks to the post office to mail the package. All donations are strictly voluntary, she emphasized.

Among the favorites: licorice, ramen noodles (just add water and voila!), magazines, peanut butter and jelly, cheese crackers with peanut butter, chocolate chip cookies, batteries and instant cameras.

The first package went on Nov. 8 to Charles Edward Spells, 26, of St. Augustine. The son of Felicia Evans, who works in housekeeping, Spells was serving as a tank commander during one of his two stints in Iraq when he received his package.

"It was nice. I dispersed [the contents] to the other members of my platoon. It was a good morale booster," Spells, who is a sergeant in the Marines, said from Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he is now stationed.

His package included cocoa mix, magazines, beef jerky, mixed nuts, a disposable camera, envelopes and stationery.

"Me and his wife stayed nervous a long time," Evans said of her firstborn child. She said she hopes he will leave the military and return to the area with his wife and two children, ages 2 and 4, so she can spoil her grandchildren.

Mike Flack's son Edward also received a package. Mike Flack is a computer wizard in the information technology department. …

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