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Resident continues creating care packages for Marines in Afghanistan

By Staff | May 25, 2011

With the help of the community and local businesses, a local woman has had the opportunity to send 21 care packages to her son-in-law’s U.S. Marine Corps unit in Afghanistan since last month.
Mary Zizzamia began seeking donations from patrons at the Clubhouse Grille and Bar last month, so she could assemble care packages to send to her son-in-law’s unit.
Sgt. Christopher Kellner, her son-in-law, has served two tours in Iraq and spent 86 days in Haiti two days after the earthquake struck the area. He was deployed in late March to Afghanistan and is expected to return home the first week of October.
On April 28, Zizzamia sent 10 boxes to her son-in-law’s unit, which she said the guys enjoyed. She said approximately 13 to 16 days after she sent the packages they received them.
Eleven more care boxes were assembled Tuesday afternoon with donations from patrons and employees from the Walgreens located on Chiquita Boulevard and the Clubhouse Grille and Bar.
Zizzamia said the boxes contained a bunch of treats, one or two toiletries, and fun things to occupy the soldiers’ time, along with pictures from the past car wash they held to show where the money came from to send them the boxes. Organizers raised more than $900 during the last car wash to assist them with the care packages.
She said since the shipping cost for the package is a flat rate of $13, she tries to pack 10 pounds worth of goodies to send off. Zizzamia said her heaviest box was 19 pounds because of canned foods.
Clubhouse Grille and Bar general manager Joey Rowing said he wanted to become involved in the project because he knows that when everyone receives a care box, it brings up the morale for the entire group.
Rowing said he has received one or two donations a day for the care packages since they starting accepting items.
He said any items that can bring the soldiers back here for a moment is a good thing. When he was deployed to Afghanistan a few years back, an item that stood out to him was a VHS tape of someone driving around capturing pictures of cornfields. Rowing said the two-hour movie meant a lot because it looked like back home in Indiana.
Zizzamia is still seeking donations for her last shipment of boxes on Aug. 10. She said she set that date as the cut-off for shipping boxes because they are expected to come home the first week of October.
The items they are still seeking include travel-sized hand wipes, razors, small bottles of shampoo, deodorant, cookies, licorice, Gatorade drink packets, nuts, beef jerky, pretzels, gum, hard candy, canned meat, fruit cups, trail mix, cup of noodles, crossword and Suduko books, magazines and newspapers.
Those who wish to donate items can drop them off at The Clubhouse Grille and Bar. For information call 239-541-8422. The bar is open from 11 a.m. until midnight, Monday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Sunday.
On June 11, a car wash will be held at the Clubhouse Bar and Grille, located at 2114 Santa Barbara Blvd., from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Rowing said he will match a dollar for every meal purchased during the car wash at the bar to go towards shipping costs or purchasing additional items to put in the boxes.
He said those who want to get their car washed can either make a cash donation or bring an item for the care packages.