San Pedro's Packages For Patriots


How It All Began





















































   In the beginning my wife and I wanted to do something to help the people fighting for our freedom. We received names and address from various websites and began to send boxes to our brave soldiers. Then, about 4 years ago, my daughter, Katie Walker, met a woman at church, Kirstin Pereyra. They quickly became friends and then Katie learned, that James, Kirstin's husband, was on his first deployment in Iraq. Shirley and I began sending packages to her husband. We sent about a package a month. When James came home safely in Jan 2008, from his 3rd deployment in Iraq, he hooked us up with Staff Sergeant Panzica and his platoon.

   In early Feb 2008, Staff Sergeant Panzica's wife, Summer, told me to wait about a week to mail his platoon's package. About a month later, in mid-March, the phone rang at my shop like it does a thousand times a day, and on the other end someone said, "This is Staff Sergeant Panzica calling for Mr. Walker, from Iraq." This phone call meant more to me than if I had won the lottery. 

   Staff Sergeant Panzica explained to me that "his Marines were moved that somebody they didn't know, would care for his Marines that much." So he wanted to call to say "thank-you from him and his platoon." 

   I was so excited, literally jumping up and down, practically in tears. I called his wife and explained to his wife that he had just called me from Iraq to thank me. I still remember the phone call that I made to his wife. When I told her that he had called me, there was 3 second pause and then she said, "He called you and not me?", so I said, "I hope I didn't get him in trouble." We laugh about it when we talk about it now.

   In the beginning of May 2008, my wife and I began to brainstorm as to how we could help more of our men in harms way. We came up with the idea of asking my customers for their help. Shirley said that most people would like to help but they just don't know how. My customer's and friend's response has been absolutely overwhelming. 

   We have teachers that are having their kids write letters and draw pictures for the soldiers. We are making copies of them so we can include them in all of the boxes because those letters should be read by all, they are absolutely wonderful.

   When Summer emailed us and told us there were guys out there who received little or nothing, we had to do something to correct that so no one would be left out. We now know we are on the right track. We have to do as much as we can to help these men and let them know we love them and we want them to all come home safe. 

   The list of people we are sending to now is growing daily. People are coming to us to tell us of a relative, a friend, or a neighbor that they know that is in harms way and so we gladly add them to our list to receive packages. People have even come in, having seen the article in the paper, and neighboring business are bringing in their customers that have loved ones in harms way. To our delight, the list keeps growing and growing.

   I recently received a phone call from Sergeant Christian calling from Afghanistan to thank us for his box saying, "His Marines are as happy as Christmas morning." I told him it was my honor and privilege to send that box to them. I asked if there was anything he needed in the next box and he replied, "No, we're fine." Again, winning the lottery, would not have made me as happy as this phone call did. 

   Two things amaze me, one, that these men took time from their busy days to call me, and second, when I ask if they needed anything, their response is always, "No, we're fine".

   These men and women that are serving our country so bravely, just need to know that we have their backs. Something as simple as a small package, a note, an email, can make the difference to these men and women and keep them going until they can come home and see their loved ones.

   This has turned into a labor of love for me. I know their families, wives, moms, and kids and now they are "my family." And something else I learned, quite surprising, that their wives are as humble as their husbands that are serving our county. Shortly after this endeavor, Summer brought her friend, Liberty, to our house because they wanted to met my wife and I. (We are also sending packages to Liberty's husband.) They literally weren't in our house more than 30 seconds and they were thanking my wife and I for what we were doing for their husbands. These wives and moms are keeping their "house a home" for when their husbands return. These families need our support as much as the men fighting for us.

   I challenge other businesses and other plain ol' citizens like me, to do something to let these men and women know that we're thinking about them. I know life is busy, paying the mortgage, car payments, the daily grind of traffic going to work, getting the kids ready for school, getting homework done, can be challenging. Take a minute, please, just a minute to think about these men and women and what they are doing for us. It really doesn't take much time to let them know we care and to make a difference in their lives. After all, compared to what they're going through, our daily grind is literally a "walk in the park." 

   Could you imagine if we all did just a little, what it would be like for the families and these patriots to know that we all are behind them and supporting their sacrifices.  

                      Mike Walker








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