VERO BEACH — Second Lieutenant Marine Michael Tozzolo is one of those men who puts everyone ahead of himself – and his family’s care package would be no different.
Family friend Carolyn Lange told the Marine’s father, Wayne, that she wanted to send a package to the lieutenant, only to find out that Tozzolo would end up giving the 45 Marines serving under him in his platoon the items in his package. “That’s the kind of guy he is,” Wayne said, adding that Michael had told his family not to send any letters for a few weeks so that he wouldn’t be the first to receive mail in Afghanistan.
He had also told them that he would make sure that his fellow Marines would get to call home before he would call.
Now, Carolyn is on a mission to get donations to fill and ship 46 care packages in time for a Thanksgiving arrival.
“They really do need a lot of things,” Carolyn said, explaining that the Marines need foot powder, eye drops, water flavorings such as Crystal Light, along with sunscreen, lotion, gum, and other such essentials.
“It’s amazing what she’s doing,” Vicki Tozzolo, Michael’s mother, said of Carolyn.
Vicki said that Carolyn has been like a surrogate mom for her son. Both Michael and Carolyn’s son, Lange Sykes, have been best friends since they were pre-teens.
“It was just so touching,” Vicki said when she saw the flyer Carolyn put together seeking help in filling the care packages.
Michael’s four sisters teared up when Vicki told them about Carolyn’s efforts. Michael is part of a set of triplets, sharing the same birthday with Stephanie and Mandi. They are 23 and have an older sister, 25-year-old Stacey.
“The whole family is very tight,” Wayne said.
Along with sending items the Marines could use, Carolyn wants to send reminders from home and other comforts to remind the 44 men and two women in the platoon that they are appreciated.
“He’s all about the Gators,” his father said, adding that the care package they send to Marine Tozzolo will most likely have something Gator related in it.
“We’re trying to give these guys a feeling of home,” Wayne said.
Vicki Tozzolo, the Marine’s mother, plans to send retro plastic Halloween masks of the classic ghouls to her son’s platoon to provide a moment of levity around their base.
Carolyn and the Tozzolos hope to continue the care package effort after the first shipment. But that will depend on the community’s support. They also want to continue sending packages to other platoons stationed overseas long after 2nd Lt. Michael Tozzolo has returned home from his tour of duty.
“This is a nice way to say thanks,” Wayne said of supporting the troops. “We should thank these guys.”
This is the Marine’s first tour to the Middle East, where he is stationed in the Hellmont Province of Afghanistan. His platoon is charged with building outposts for incoming troops.
Prior to joining the Marines, Tozzolo attended Sebastian River High School’s International Baccalaureate program and graduated in the Top 10 of his class – Class of 2004. He then went on to attend University of Florida and graduated in 2008.
“He’s always been an overachiever,” Wayne said.
How to Help:
Donated items to go in care packages can be dropped off at the Thorpe Sotheby’s International Realty office located at 675 Beachland Blvd., Vero Beach.
Financial donations, too, are needed to purchase more items to be sent and to cover shipping expenses. Checks should be made out to “Support our Troops” and mailed to P.O. Box 780182, Sebastian, FL 32978.
Those who would like to write a letter to Marine Tozzolo may send it to the following address:
2nd Lt. Mike TozzoloCLB1 ENG CO Unit 42390FPO, AP 96427-2390
To learn more about Carolyn Lange’s efforts to ship care packages to Marines in Afghanistan, e-mail [email protected] or call (772) 473-7982.
Indian River County residents who have family members in the Military stationed in the Middle East are encouraged to contact Lange to have care packages sent to their loved ones.