After spending hours in the kitchen making about 20 to 30 dozen cookies, Linda Jones doesn’t want to smell freshly-baked sugary goods again for a while.
And she won’t have to because her cookies, as well as hundreds of others donated by fellow bakers, will be shipped overseas in care packages to U.S. military personnel.
Jones is the head of the local chapter of Treat the Troops, a volunteer group that makes cookies to pack in boxes along with candy, toiletries and appreciation letters. She organizes a packing date every couple of months.
On a recent evening, volunteers gathered in a room full of cookies at VFW Post 9143 to pack as many boxes as possible to send to troops stationed in South Korea. This time the group packed a total of 73 boxes, including 8,760 cookies.
“My hope is that they’ll open this package and take a minute to remember home, maybe grab a cup of coffee and remember and know that they will never be forgotten,” Jones said.
Each soldier’s box begins with the cookies, about 120 of them that rest on top of a couple of current magazines for cushion and reading material, then the spaces in between are filled with loose candies.
Snacks such as granola bars or pretzels are added, followed by small toiletry items such as lotion, face cloths and conditioner go on top. Lastly, a few letters written by local students and volunteers are placed at the top.
“My goal is let’s totally fill that box up with everything edible we can,” Jones said. “And we want the letters and the thank-you notes on top so that’s the first thing the soldier sees when he opens up that box is ‘thank you for your service.’”
This time the group also packed three boxes full of treats to send to military dogs.
This chapter, known as Treat the Troops Southern Style, has held about five meetings to pack boxes, Jones said.
Suzy Harris, a neighbor of Jones, heard about the group when her son, Robert, left home to join the military. She has been packing ever since.
Between sending cookie boxes through Treat The Troops and personalized packages to her son while he served in the Marines, Harris said she “got really good at packing boxes.”
Robert Harris recently returned home and came to the meeting to meet those who had sent him many cookies.
“The packages were great. They’re doing an awesome thing,” he said. “It’s not just candies and cookies. It’s important hygiene stuff.”
Robert Harris received about 10 boxes, which he said provided a welcome break from military food.
“They were so kind to me,” he said. “I’m more than happy to stop by and put some names with faces in the group.”
Anyone interested can bake cookies and drop them off, attend and help with the packing or donate money for postage costs.
“I am just amazed at the generosity of people,” Jones said.