How to Donate
Parachute Packers are interested in receiving the following items, but will appreciate any shippable donations given to them:
• Jolly Ranchers candy
• Tootsie Pops
• Microwavable macaroni and cheese
• Gently used, fairly recent hot rod, graphic art magazines
• Contact solution
• Chewing gum
• Cookies in individual serving packages
• NOS energy drinks
• Single packs of Kool-Aid
• Recent, gently used Sunday comics
Flowery Branch High students can drop donations off to Bridget Rodriguez in room 351 now until Oct. 12. Community members may drop off donations by coming through the car line after school on Monday from 3:35 to 4:30 p.m.
Charlie Plumb was a soldier in Vietnam. He was shot down and parachuted into enemy territory and spent six years as a prisoner of war.
But he survived because of the man who packed his parachute.
Decades later, the story of Plumb and his parachute packer lives on in the hearts and minds of members of Flowery Branch High School's Parachute Packers club.
The group aims to support deployed servicemen and women and help out back at home in the community.
"Flowery Branch has a huge school spirit," said Parachute Packers member Daniel Boddie, a 16-year-old junior. "When we actually get to support our military alumni, it's a very grateful thing. It helps us create a sense of brotherhood, almost."
Parachute Packers member Cheyenne Ramey, 17, a senior at Flowery Branch High, had relatives who served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. She said the club is a good way to get involved in the community and a way to give back to the military.
The club first helped Gainesville-based 802nd Ordnance Company.
"Since they returned, what we do now is individual
soldiers who are related to the Flowery Branch community," said Bridget Rodriguez, an English teacher at Flowery Branch High and club sponsor.
Rodriguez said club members get lists from soldiers' families about what food, fun items and necessities they need during their deployment. Members collect, pack and ship the personalized care packages overseas.
Most of the items requested are ones people take for granted, said senior Meghan Magee, 17, club president.
"Some want eyedrops and some want candy," she said. "And mac ‘n' cheese. We always get requests for mac ‘n' cheese."
One of the servicemen they're supporting is related to a Hall County employee.
"(The other) young man we're supporting right now (Nathan Crowe) has a younger brother in Flowery Branch High School and he's a Parachute Packer," Rodriguez said.
Crowe graduated from Flowery Branch High in 2005. He's deployed on an 18-month tour with the Marine Corps and will be back in February.
He comes from a heavy military background, with a father, grandfather and uncle who served.
"It was a good choice for him," said his mother, Rosharon Crowe. "My youngest son can't wait to be enlisted."
Nathan Crowe is on a humanitarian tour in Europe. His unit is based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.
"He waited a good bit (after graduation) to make that decision," Rosharon Crowe said. "I'm so proud of him."
She said Nathan loves the care packages he's been sent from the Parachute Packers.
"I think it's wonderful because so many people on that boat that don't have family. The fact the school has this is great," Rosharon Crowe said. "Just the little notes from schools that kids write to keep these people's morale up and let them know they have something to come home to and that they're appreciated. ... It's wonderful."
In January, the group is planning to adopt another military group, this one led by Fred Wendal, former Prince of Peace pastor and now a major in the Army.
In addition to working with the military, Parachute Packers members do a lot of behind the scenes work in the community.
"Parachute Packers started as a club to help out our military, but we decided to expand and help out our community," Magee said.
Some of their community work includes setting up events at Flowery Branch High and working with the Family Readiness Group in Gainesville. On Wednesday, club members volunteered with the Hall County Special Olympics held at C.W. Davis Middle School.
"One of my best friends, his younger brother is autistic and I love him to death. That's one reason I'm out here today," Boddie said. "I've always been able to help people. It just makes me feel happy."