Ed McClelland, owner of the Dock Docktor in Discovery Bay, was named the ExtenZe Local Hero and honored on Father’s Day at the Toyota/Save Mart 350 for his indefatigable effort to gather goods, package them, pay for postage and ship nearly 800 boxes of America (so far) to members of the military. His reward included spending three days with a full-access pit pass, which gave him access to the garages, pit boxes and drivers as an honorary member of Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year contender Kevin Conway’s crew.
“It was wild,” McClellend said. “Those guys on that team were just really nice people. It was great to be around them all weekend.”
Even greater, he said, was the $1,000 gift he will use for postage, and the 200 hats he will include in future mailings.
“Our troops are out there fighting for us every day and it is great to see someone like Ed stand up and take charge in recognizing their sacrifices and make sure they are getting the everyday necessities that we take for granted,” said Conway in a press release. “I’m sure he has a lot of fans overseas and that our troops are very gracious for his selfless acts.”
Affectionately known now as The Popcorn Man because he has sent more than five pallets of Pop Secret popcorn in the last eight months, McClelland is taken aback by all the praise he has received from local media for his acts of generosity. “They wrote an article about what we were doing and at first I didn’t like it; I wanted it to be about the troops,” he said. “But the outpouring of support from companies and individuals has helped me increase my efforts and send more packages.
“I have always been patriotic, and wanted to show my support for the troops,” he said. “I started off coordinating pro-troop rallies back home with semis and Harleys through town.”
Drawing further inspiration from veterans of the Vietnam War and seeing how supportive they were to the current troops, he realized that there was much more that could be done. At first he assumed what the troops might need and started sending care packages. What he got in return was amazing. E-mails came pouring in, thanking him for his kindness, telling him stories of how his single act of compassion raised the morale of the troops and how even this relatively simple gesture impacted the troops’ lives in a way few could understand.
“I don’t think I deserve any hoopla, and I really don’t want it,” said McClelland, admitting that he’s never been a big NASCAR fan. He’s nevertheless grateful for the honor, the fabulous weekend, and the boost he hopes it will give his efforts. “I know that getting the word out like this I’m going to get more stuff for my troops.”
McClelleand said his packages go to chaplains or to forward operating bases, and once included a donation of dog beds for a 10-dog bomb-sniffing unit. Another shipment, though, was returned, along with a sobering reality.
“It was for a 24-year-old mother of two,” he said. “She was killed in Iraq.” He keeps the box around, and prays over it with the other boxes in the shipments that go out every other week from his church, Creekside Church in Brentwood.
Those who want to donate items to be sent to the troops can e-mail Ed McClelland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adam Colborne contributed to this story.