Originally Published: March 9, 2008 8:15 p.m.
PRESCOTT VALLEY - Mary Mallory comes from a strong military background that she traces as far back as the Civil War.
She said her father, the late Clarence G. Zealor, joined the U.S. Army at the age of 17, and survived the Bataan Death March in the Philippines during World War II. However, she did not learn about his experience until she was 32, 21 years after Clarence died from cancer.
Her son Kevin recently graduated from the Army boot camp at Fort Sill, Okla., and another son, Steven, served in the Air Force.
Mallory, front-end service operations manager at the Albertsons supermarket in Prescott Valley, has shown additional support for the military since she launched the annual Cookies for the Troops drive four years ago. A store in the Phoenix area inspired her drive.
Albertsons customers this year bought 2,167 bags of chocolate chip cookies to send to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mallory said.
She said Packages from Home - a nonprofit organization - and nearby residents supplied addresses of members of the military serving in both wars. Volunteers plan to package the 40-cookie bags during the final month in March.
"What happens with this is we brighten somebody's day" by mailing cookies, letters and drawings from schoolchildren, Mallory said.
Mallory, 48, said troops regularly show their thanks.
"Thanks for the cookies, prayers, and generous support," 1st Sgt. Steve Walls wrote Mallory on behalf of Marines and sailors from the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, Lima Company, serving in Barwanah, Iraq. "It's on behalf of patriotic Americans such as you that we gladly do what we do."
Mallory said she is not making a political statement.
"I'm supportive of the troops," she said. "This is supporting other human beings. They are over there giving their lives for us."
Mallory acknowledged receiving complaints from some apparent Vietnam War veterans who said no one sent them packages of cookies when they fought overseas.
She draws kudos for her work ethic from her boss, Store Director Tom Chase.
"She is just an outstanding employee," said Chase. "She cares about Albertsons, but she also cares about the community that she serves."
Chase said that Southwestern district representatives from Albertsons presented five-star customer service awards to Mallory, Assistant Service Operations Manager Dan Steinberg and Bakery Manager Erika Mcgehee Friday afternoon. The district contains 21 stores from Scottsdale to Flagstaff in the north.
The district honored Mallory based on an evaluation from a mystery shopper who visited the store, Chase said.
Mallory grew up in Long Beach, Calif., and started her career with Albertsons as a courtesy clerk 17 years ago. She and her husband, Kirk, moved to Prescott Valley eight years ago from Palm Springs, Calif., for her to accept a transfer to the Prescott Valley store.
Mary and Kirk have four adult sons from previous marriages, and a granddaughter.
"I like having fun. I like helping with community things and being part of it," Mary Mallory said. "I'm not the person who wants to hear all the reasons something will not work. I just hear the positive. It is good to do things for other people and to help (them)."
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