By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service
March 13, 2009 - Deployed servicemembers in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and Kuwait will not miss out on Girl Scout cookies this year, thanks to the troop-support group "Hugs for Our Soldiers." The group's first Girl Scout cookie drive was in 2004. Five years later, the group continues to partner with Gwen Lawrence and her Brownie Troop 61 to collect cookies for "Operation: Taste of Home."
"I currently have possession of more than 1,000 Girl Scout cookie boxes that have been donated by churches, civic organizations or placed in donation boxes in various locations," Kathy Orcutt, president of Hugs for Our Soldiers, said. "The big numbers will roll in next weekend when the service units complete their sales. I expect at least 3,000 more boxes."
As community members purchase their favorite box of cookies, they are encouraged to show support to local servicemembers and their local Girl Scouts by purchasing an extra box or two for deployed troops so they can enjoy a taste of home.
The cookie drive will end March 22.
"Most of the cookies will be shipped to our troops," Orcutt said. "At least a thousand of them will be used here, at home, to support our 'Welcome Home' program. We'll place them in the barracks rooms of single soldiers who will be returning from deployment at the end of this month and in April. What a big surprise they will have -- to see that they didn't miss Girl Scout cookies this year!"
MaKayla White, 10, a member of the Tennessee Junior Troop 741 of the Little River Service Unit, collects cookies for Orcutt's group, and said she is glad to be participating in the cookie drive.
"It just makes me feel really good to do something for them," MaKayla said. "They are so far away. It's good to make sure the troops have some snacks. The troops always love our Girl Scout cookies. We are just so proud of them."
Orcutt said she believes Girl Scout cookies are among the most requested snack items for deployed servicemembers.
"Everyone looks forward to this once-a-year sale ... soldiers included," Orcutt said. "From the comments and thank yous we've received, it's apparent to me that when a soldier opens a box of Girl Scout cookies, takes his first bite, a memory of home enters his mind."