Tables sat heaped with plastic bags filled with cookies ranging from Snicker Doodles and lemon cream to the ever-popular chocolate chip.
The dozens of volunteers worked quickly. Armed with a cardboard shipping box, each filled it with cookies and magazines, razors, candy, and small tins of Vienna sausages and potato chips.
“We’re at 150 boxes and counting,” said Linda Jones, happy disbelief filling the words. “We may run out of boxes. That’s never happened before.”
Jones is one of the organizers of the Forsyth County chapter of Treat the Troops, a nonprofit that sends homemade cookies and other items to military men and women serving overseas.
Jones said the chapter holds “packing parties,” such as the one Tuesday night at the Cumming library, every four to six weeks.
The operation runs completely on volunteer help and donations.
People are asked to donate homemade cookies or personal hygiene items like razors or travel-size toothbrushes.
Monetary donations are also sought to help cover the costs of shipping the boxes. Each one costs $11.95.
“We ask people to give $2 per every dozen cookies,” Jones said. “People can give cookies, money or both.”
The organization also asks that cookies be separated into individual bags, with six in each.
Jones explained that each box is filled with five bags of cookies, and then rounded out with other items.
“We’ve been going for about six years now in Cumming,” Jones said. “We’ve shipped close to 3 million cookies.”
Fellow organizer Debbie Hudson said Tuesday’s packing party was probably the largest in the Cumming chapter’s history.
“One lady came from Tucker and brought 100 dozen cookies, and someone else brought 120 dozen,” Hudson said.
Jones’ husband, Robert, was among the several dozen volunteers who packed and taped boxes.
He spent a couple years serving in Vietnam in the late 1960s and recalled the difference a box from home can make to a solider.
“My mother sent me cookies once a month,” he said. “I was always a very popular guy when they got there.
“It meant a lot because it meant someone cared about you.”
Diane Boldt volunteers at as many cookie-packing parties as she can. She does so in honor of her two nephews who served in Iraq.
“I sent them cookies when they were over there,” she said. “One was killed. He loved cookies. He was my cookie monster.”
The effort continues to grow, but that has led to some complications.
Jones explained that it has become more difficult to pin down locations for the packing parties. And a site is needed to permanently house boxes and other supplies.
“It would be great if we had some place that we could store all our materials and then have packing parties there,” she said. “That way we wouldn’t have to move everything around all the time.”
Despite the challenges, the efforts make it worthwhile.
“When you’re a hundred million miles away, nothing’s better than a cookie from home,” Robert Jones said.