TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. -A local Girl Scout troop sent a little bit of home to Soldiers overseas.
On Nov. 5, Mike Corey mailed 10 cases of Girl Scout cookies to Soldiers stationed in Iraq. Corey is a lead information technology specialist in Information Management Directorate's Systems and Application Design Division.
The 14 girls of Troop 658 met once a week, after school, spending six hours writing messages on boxes of cookies that were purchased and donated by local businesses. Each case of cookies contains 12 boxes, totaling 120 boxes. Their greetings included messages such as "Best Wishes," "Thank You," "God Bless You and Keep You Safe" and "You're the Best."
To show their gratitude, the Soldiers sent the girls pictures of themselves holding the boxes of cookies. "They were so excited to see that the Soldiers received the cookies," says Corey. They also sent a flag that was flown on a vehicle during the war. The flag was presented by Nathan Thomas to the girls of Troop 658 on Dec. 26 in the lobby of Building 11. Thomas is an intern with the Command Group.
The girls and Corey mailed another shipment on Dec. 17. "This time they sent ten boxes filled with Christmas ornaments, cookies, candy, toys, toothpaste, mouthwash, foot powder and lotion, anything to remind them of home" says Beth Botke, leader of Troop 658. "The girls also made over 80 holiday cards to be distributed to the Soldiers." It took the girls four hours to prepare the packages and they shipped three more cases of cookies that day.
Botke and Corey both agree that it was important for the girls to participate in this opportunity. As a youth, Corey participated in similar opportunities during the Vietnam War. "When I saw what the girls were doing, I jumped at the chance to help," he said. Botke also has strong bonds with people in the service.
"The girls sort of adopted the Soldiers," says Corey. The recipients of the packages include Soldiers and deployed depot personnel. John Brooks was on the receiving end in Iraq when the first shipment arrived there. Brooks is the Southwest Asia Forward Repair Activity manager, Forward Operating Base Anaconda, Balad, Iraq. He thanked Troop 658 through an e-mail that was forwarded many times until it reached Corey. In the e-mail Brooks thanked the girls, expressing how proud and honored the troops were to receive the encouraging packages. This inspired the girls to continue the project.
"The girls don't plan on stopping," says Botke. "They want to send more after this next shipment."