FORT BENNING, Ga., (June 18, 2014) -- Fort Benning Soldiers received a truckload of sweets June 11, courtesy of Girl Scouts of America and the Hugs for Soldiers organization.
Hugs for Soldiers, a ministry of Duluth First United Methodist Church in Duluth, Georgia, delivered more than 16,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to Fort Benning.
Hugs for Soldiers founder Angie Doerlich said 7,000 boxes went to Soldiers of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team on Kelley Hill and additional boxes were donated to the Warrior Transition Battalion and the Armor School.
Doerlich said the organization blossomed after partnering with 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment. The Panther Battalion received the first set of care packages after deploying to the Middle East in 2003. The partnership later spread to sister battalions within the brigade.
"We formed the program to give civilians an avenue to support the troops that were deployed overseas," Doerlich said. "They can send care packages overseas or they can adopt a Soldier to support during their deployment. We also have a Valentine's Day card drive."
This year, Hugs for Soldiers partnered with Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta in their Smiles4Military Cookie Send Off event, committing to delivering 16,464 boxes of cookies to the Fort Benning community. Mike Nash, president and general manager of Suddath Relocation Systems of Atlanta, joined the effort by sponsoring the delivery of the cookies.
Doerlich said the cookie drive is one of the organization's most popular events - for volunteers and the Soldiers who receive them.
"I think Girl Scout cookies are an American icon that connects with the troops," she said. "Many of them also have daughters who are Girl Scouts, so this brings them a taste of home."
Pfc. Johnathan Alger, of 2nd Bn., 69th Armor Regt., said the cookies are a kind gesture from the community.
"It means a lot for people to bring cookies to us," he said. "I think it's nice and anything they do is a big deal to me."