No sooner did the Tagalongs, Thank U Berry Munch, Thin Mints and other yummy favorites arrive in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, than they were immediately sent to appreciative soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq who longed for the familiar treats.
Phase Two of , which was supported by local girl scouts in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, was accomplished.
“(It is hoped) that the cookies will bring a taste of home to our soldiers serving so bravely overseas,” said Alison Bergman, Senior Girl Scout leader in Ardsley and founder/coordinator of Operation Cookie Drop.
Earlier this week Commander Michael Neubert wrote, “We received 44 tri-wall containers of cookies in Kuwait on Saturday. They are already on the way to Afghanistan and Iraq, and have been distributed to military installations all over Kuwait.”
Once the boxes reached Kuwait, Bergman said, she began receiving emails from soldiers expressing gratitude and appreciation.
“Being deployed overseas makes one miss the comforts of being at home,” wrote Cpl. Christopher A. Calvert. “Troops often miss the little things the U.S. has to offer.”
What began with 36 scouts and 111 boxes of cookies in August 2002 - in the aftermath of September 11 - has grown into a been a much-anticipated annual project for Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson and for the soldiers.
Echoing the sentiments of many, Calvert wrote, “Receiving a box of donated Girl Scout cookies is that little slice of Americana I desired, and it worked as the perfect remedy for my homesickness.”
Ten-year-old Hannah Lustyik, a member of Junior GS Troop 2041 led by Jaime Echt, Volunteer Community Co-Chair, Girl Scouts of the Tarrytowns, helped with the cookie sendoff this past May.
“I felt good that I was helping our soldiers and sending them something delicious that would remind them of home and maybe help them not feel so sad,” Lustyik said. “I was very excited to meet the soldiers at the armory (in Valhalla). Girl Scouts and soldiers worked side by side to load up the big boxes with all kinds of cookies.”
Some of those receiving the special Girl Scout care packages shared their own personal stories, and even their experiences in scouting.
“Thank you so much for the Girl Scout Cookies and the beautiful notes,” wrote SFC Delores M. Wallace. “As a prior Girl Scout myself, thank you very much.”
Mary Mehan, Command Security Manager, said the picture of one scout, included in the package, brought back fond memories.
“Many thanks for the ten years you've been doing this for all of us,” Mehan wrote. “My granddaughter is a Girl Scout, and one picture with scouts about her age sent with the cookies reminded me of her. Thanks again.
One soldier stationed in Kuwait said the cookies and cards helped him feel remembered back home.
“Sometimes we feel that the nation has forgotten about us over here, and your ‘taste of home’ helps remind us that we are indeed missed and appreciated,” he wrote. “You ladies are why I joined and serve, and while I may never get to the Hudson Valley, send along my thanks to those who may listen.”
For local girls who have been helping in the effort for years, or even for the first time, Operation Cookie Drop has taught an important lesson in service through supporting those who serve overseas.
“It taught the scouts about giving back to those who give so much - our armed forces and veterans,” Echt said. “It’s a wonderful experience for everyone there."