Most of us get annoyed when we receive spam, but one Maryland man has spent countless hours and money sending Spam to troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan so they can have a little bit of home while they’re away.

Don Downer, who is 82 years old, was once a Marine himself. After leaving high school early, he was one of the youngest sergeants in the Marine Corps. While he was overseas serving his country, his mother would send him care packages, including homemade cookies, other comforts from home and cans of Spam.

After Downer’s wife of 56 years passed away in 2008, he needed something to fill the void in his life. That’s when he began making care packages for a neighbor serving in Iraq. He always includes sweet and salty snacks, a small item like a knit cap, a personal note and Spam. Every care package includes Spam, just like the packages Downer used to receive.

The former Marine began by sending packages to his neighbor, but he now chooses his package recipients by contacting commanders and requesting the names of servicemen and women who don’t often receive care packages from home. He has sent more than 1,400 care packages. And, he has received hundreds of “thank you” notes in return.

“They take time out from fighting a war to respond,” said Downer. “It’s just amazing.”

Downer, known as the “Spam czar,” was recently named Howard County Maryland’s Volunteer of the Year for the time and effort he puts into sending a little bit of home to our troops overseas, even if it is Spam. He plans to continue Spamming the troops with care packages for as long as he can.

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