The packages were sent as part of the Lance Cpl. Eric Palmisano Care Package Project and coordinated locally by Naomi Wallis. The Care Package Project was started by the parents of Palmisano, who was killed in action while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq. It has grown to a national presence.
Walmart of Sylacauga set up collection sites in November 2009 for money and items people wished to donate to soldiers in Afghanistan. Local citizens donated more than $1,200 worth of items and money for the effort. The 34 boxes that were shipped contained items such as toiletries and food and other little gifts to improve their stay, Wallis said.
The boxes went to the Rev. Mitch Nethery, chaplain for the 877th EN BN National Guard Unit from Sulligent and stationed in Sharana, where he placed the items in the unit’s Agape Store for soldiers to receive. Wallis said the store was named for God’s unconditional love.
Wallis received a thank you note from Nethery and learned that even though the unit was based in Sulligent, some soldiers, including Keith Leland Butler, were from the Sylacauga area. Wallis said Butler sent word that he received a great blessing upon receiving the packages from his hometown.
Walmart was given an American flag raised over the base in Sharana on New Year’s Day this year, along with a certificate of authenticity, by the National Guard unit in appreciation of its efforts.
To express Walmart’s gratitude to all the Sylacauga and Talladega County residents and Walmart associates that donated to this project, a “Thank You” display was set up in the stare on Saturday, Jan. 30, and Sunday, Jan. 31.
The donated flag and certificate, as well as a certificate of honor, were given to Butler’s family in a ceremony at the store on Saturday.