Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

December 2, 2013

Clarice Tinsley honors Corsicana's Jean O'Connor (segment to air Monday, Tuesday)

Angels of Corsicana force a Fox 4 Hometown Hero

By Deanna Kirk
Corsicana Daily Sun

— For the last 10 years, every month, rain or shine, poor economy or not, Jean O’Connor, husband Marvin, and a small band of volunteers have collected items for use by our military personnel, packed them in creative ways, and sent them overseas, all over the world.

And Monday, Clarice Tinsley of Fox 4 News came to Corsicana to name Jean as a Hometown Hero.

To view the piece on Fox 4 News, tune in at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2, or at 12 noon Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Lt. Col. Rick Koziol of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1009 started the ball rolling by writing a letter to Tinsley.

“I had heard about Hometown Hero — or in this case, Heroine! — and thought I’d give it a shot,” Koziol said. “Jean does an awful lot of work. This is not a club about status, it’s all for the troops.”

The Christmas boxes garner more attention perhaps than the boxes throughout the rest of the year. In those, not only do they try to include some creature comforts, but also a handmade touch of home.

“There’s extra love in these stockings, because they are all homemade, and not store bought,” said Tinsley of the handmade Christmas stockings used to hold goodies for soldiers.

“Is there still time to donate? For Christmas, I mean, because you all ship every month,” she asked.

There is still time to donate for the Christmas packing, which will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday at the American Legion, 624 N. Beaton. All are welcome to come pack. There will be a free lunch served by the American Legion Auxiliary following the packing.

Items still needed are money for postage (which is always needed), crackers, cookies, nuts, cocoa, apple cider, playing cards, popcorn, travel size deodorant and mouthwash, pretzels and breakfast bars.

Donations that are already being included in the stockings are socks, lotions, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, coffee, coozies, pens, and pencils, and over 325 handmade Christmas stockings and pillows.

“Whatever comes in, we pack it in the boxes,” Jean O’Connor said, including Beanie Babies.

Tinsley took time to visit with people individually, such as Joyce Collins about what she gets out of sewing so many pillows by hand.

“It means a lot to me, because I had two boys in the service over in Germany,” Collins said. “They loved things that came from home.”

“Do you think it means more that someone made it?” Tinsley asked.

“Oh yes,” Collins replied. “I just love making them. I figured out I could make 80 to 100 per month if I just had more fabric!”

The VVA Chapter 1009 helped Angels out this year immensely by raising over $2,000 for postage, but the Christmas mailing normally takes at least $3,000 to mail. Angels of Corsicana Troop Support is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, that exists solely on donations from individuals, church groups, service clubs, and businesses.

If you would like to donate to Angels, or your club wishes to join the packing effort at 10 a.m. Saturday, contact Jean O’Connor, Corsicana’s Hometown Hero, at (903) 851-2560.