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Patriotic Article
Noble Efforts

By Kevin Stabinsky

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Girl Scouts Collect More Than
10,000 Boxes Of Cookies For Deployed Soldiers

(April 7, 2010)

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ATLANTA (ANS, April 2, 2010) -- For many people, Girl Scout cookies are an absolute treat for just a few months each year.

For Soldiers serving overseas, however, these goodies are a taste of home as well as reminder that people are thinking of them and supporting their sacrifices.

Soldiers throughout Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan will soon learn there are a lot of people around Atlanta thinking of them when more than 10,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies will be sent to them in the next few weeks.

Girl Scouts (from rear, left to right) Giovanna LaTour, 16, Kenzie Heard, 16, Alexandra Moreno, 14, and (from front, left to right) Ashtyn Warner, 16, Amanda Martin, 16, Danni Mussatt, 13, and Leann Mussatt, 13, pose with a truckload of cookies they delivered to Fort McPherson. The girls helped collect more than 10,000 boxes of cookies to be sent to Soldiers overseas.
Girl Scouts (from rear, left to right) Giovanna LaTour, 16, Kenzie Heard, 16, Alexandra Moreno, 14, and (from front, left to right) Ashtyn Warner, 16, Amanda Martin, 16, Danni Mussatt, 13, and Leann Mussatt, 13, pose with a truckload of cookies they delivered to Fort McPherson. The girls helped collect more than 10,000 boxes of cookies to be sent to Soldiers overseas.
The cookies, like Berry Munch, Samoas, Tagalongs, Dulce de Leche, Do-si-Dos, Thin Mints, Lemon Chalet Cremes and Trefoils, were collected in a drive organized by Hannah Grace, 14, a member of Girl Scout Troop 1888 from the Atlanta area.

"We just want to make the Soldiers overseas feel more at home and know that people support them," she said.

Grace said in organizing the project, which will net her the Silver Award, the second highest Girl Scout award, she worked with other Girl Scout troops, including Troop 4244 of metro-Atlanta.

Jennifer Heard, troop leader for 4244, said her troop started their collection process six years ago.

Eventually, the troop activity began to expand into a countywide collection, she said. That growth eventually caught the attention of leaders of Troop 1888. Roxanne Lau, Troop 1888 leader, said although her troop began to partner with Heard's troop three years ago, the partnership still needed girls like Grace to organize the manpower and get the process functioning.

Grace said when organizing the event, she looked to collect at least 10,000 boxes and began to work toward that goal. Girl Scouts asked customers to purchase boxes for donation and worked with small businesses to match donations collected by a troop.

"We had two businesses donate more than 900 boxes," Grace said.

To add a little bit of personality to the cardboard boxes, the Scouts also decided to decorate the boxes they collected Saturday at Lilburn City Hall. Patricia Walker, leader for Troop 491 of Fayetteville, Ga., brought some of her Scouts to help decorate.

"Normally, we go to the airport to give out cookies," she said.

Walker decided to give cookies as a project after seeing the response from sending cookies to her niece, Marine Corps Master Sgt. Jessica Walker.

While handing out cookies at the airport, the Scouts from Troop 491 mingled with returning and departing Soldiers, drawing much inspiration and motivation from women Soldiers.

Based on that interaction, Walker's scouts wanted to do a little more this year.

"We're mostly writing notes of encouragement," Walker said. "The Soldiers have always been so incredibly grateful."

Pamela Kohn, whose brother-in-law, Bryan Kohn, served in the military, brought her daughter, Jamie, 8, a Scout with Troop 1826 of Lawrence, Ga. to take part in the decoration.

"We just want to show support because they are the ones fighting for us," Pamela said.

Besides decorations, the boxes will also include Bibles, notes, cards and letters, Grace said. The hope is that some of the receiving units return the favor and write back, Lau said.

"The girls get a real sense of accomplishment when they get notes back," Lau said.

Units that do write back, besides making the girls feel good about their work, also get a guarantee to receive other boxes in the future.

Otherwise, Lau said boxes aren't sent to specific units, but rather to areas where they are needed most.

These areas include special operations groups and units at smaller camps or patrol bases far away from comforts enjoyed by Soldiers on larger bases and camps.

Helping the Girl Scouts get the cookies to areas of need are Soldiers at Fort McPherson, Ga.

By working with the military, the Scouts do not have to worry about shipping costs, Lau said. This year, Lau said she has been working closely with Capt. Matthew Verett, commander, USAG Company C.

Verett said he learned of the program through his previous battalion commander, Lt. Col. LaDonna Holt, who also worked with the Girl Scouts.

Besides storing the cookies, his Soldiers will help prepare the cookies for mailing and do handouts to departing troops at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Currently, 9,804 boxes are being stored in Company C's headquarters. Co. C's first sergeant, 1st Sgt. Mark Demers, who helped unload the cookies Sunday, said the cookies will be sent out through the post mailroom by the battalion.

Verett said work began this week and will extend into next. "I hope we brighten their day a bit," he said of the donations.

Although Verett said Fort McPherson's involvement in the project next year is up in the air due to the base closure act, the Girl Scouts have no desire to stop their collection efforts.

Article and photo By Kevin Stabinsky
USAG Fort McPherson, GA
Copyright 2010

Reprinted from Army News Service

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