On March 3, 1,600 cases of Girl Scout cookies were delivered to USO Fort Riley thanks to the efforts of troops in northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri.
"This is all from all of our council … all of our troops, all of our Girl Scouts from the area whether they be from Topeka, Kansas City, Overland Park, Fort Riley and Junction City," said Troop 1641 leader Cathy Stage, wife of Sgt. 1st Class James Stage, 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. "A lot of our local people bought these cookies to support our troops."
Girl Scouts, while out in the winter air selling door-to-door and at select locations, asked if customers would like to buy a box for Soldiers. This is part of a nation-wide program with the Girl Scouts.
"… it's really cold and it's hard to see what you're working toward because all you're focused on is the coldness," Stage said. "Maybe some times are slower, but then you come and look and this is what thecommunity did. They bought every one of these boxes specifically for the USO. Just to see how many community members stepped up to support not only Girls Scouts, but USO also."
The amount of cookies stunned USO Fort Riley director Mark Claussen.
"It's impressive -- it's so impressive," he said. "One, it's a neat thing because everybody loves Girl Scout cookies and two, the fact they are able to provide that to Soldiers and the families and make them a little bit happy. Everybody is happy to get cookies. It's just amazing."
The USO Fort Riley staff will have cookies available in the center for patrons and at events while supplies last, said Traci Taylor, USO Fort Riley center operations and program manager. But the facility is not a distribution hub for people to just come and pick them up.
"Because they are such a hot commodity, we'd like to make sure they're getting in the hands of who they were intended for," she said. "So, we want to have our families enjoy this bountiful donation from the Girl Scouts, but we are going to be respectful of their intent.
"They are available if you come and are a patron of the center and come to the center and engage in some way," she said. "If you come in for an event, come in for lunch, come in and use the computers -- the cookies are intended for service members and their families. We are not distributing cookies as if we were distributing tickets for an event. Oftentimes we get donations of those kinds and then it's first-come, first-served, get them out the door."
Taylor said she wanted to clear up any confusion caused last year.
"Last year we did have an overabundance, because we did get more, plus we did have a lot of the same variety that were harder to distribute," she said. "At the end of the distribution period last year, we were just trying to get them out before their expiration date. That's where the confusion is. They will be available at events. We do have a No Dough dinner coming up in April; we will be distributing some cookies there. We like to save some back for Victory Week because that's a big, important event for us."
For Stage, seeing the cookies at different events on Fort Riley gives extra meaning to the work done by the troops.
"I think I have sort of an advantage because I'm a military spouse, but I get to see when we're at a No Dough or a USO event, they are over here handing them out to our service members and then they get to enjoy it," she said. "Whereas a nonmilitary town elsewhere, they don't get to actually see this come full circle."