Hugs for Soldiers Suwanee MagazineYou look forward to them all year long. There’s just nothing like the taste of TagaLongs, Samoas, and Thin Mints. And then the time comes and there’s a knock on your door – it’s a Girl Scout and you realize it’s Girl Scout cookie time.

For those serving in our military overseas, there is no knock on the door and opening it to find a Girl Scout selling her scrumptious baked goods. But one organization located in nearby Duluth is making sure some U.S. Soldiers abroad will get some.

Hugs for Soldiers, a ministry of Duluth First United Methodist Church, will send Girl Scout cookies to military men and women who have signed up to be a part of the organization’s Adopt-A-Soldier program and who are serving in Afghanistan, Kuwait and a unit in Djibouti, Africa.

Angie Doerlich, founder of Hugs for Soldiers, said it will be the organization’s tenth year for collecting cookies for the soldiers, a cookie drive that started when the group wanted to do something special for the first unit of adopted soldiers that had just returned from war in Iraq to Ft. Benning. The organization teamed up with the Duluth Girl Scout Service Unit, and as part of a community service project, the Girl Scouts sold extra boxes of cookies for the soldiers. About 60 cases were donated for delivery to the 2-69 Armor Battalion.Hugs for Soldiers Suwanee Magazine Jan Feb

Over the past nine years, about 35,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies have been donated from all across the United States. The cookies, an item that cannot be purchased overseas, are shipped overseas, packed in welcome home bags for Soldiers returning home from war.

“The Soldiers are in stressful situations, but when they receive a box of cookies from home, it sends a message to the troops that America is thinking of them and their safe return,” Doerlich said.

After receiving the cookies, one Soldier wrote to Hugs for Soldiers: “The 988th Military Police Company Headquarters platoon out of Fort Benning, Georgia, would like to thank you for the Girl Scout Cookies. We have enjoyed getting a Taste of Home. Our platoon enjoys the cookies on our downtime after work or for a snack during our long days. When we receive these gifts, we are grateful that people think about us and share with us the pleasures of the simple things, such as Girl Scout Cookies. We appreciate your support.  It is a wonderful moral boost when you take care of us. The platoon has enjoyed the cookies and we all thank you for all your support.”

Doerlich said the cookies are shipped to specific units and locations, especially those on Forward Operating Bases far away from the comforts enjoyed by larger bases, and Girl Scouts/donors are encouraged to write a note of appreciation to go along with each box of cookies. A return or email address of an adult may be included so that the soldiers who receive the cookies have an opportunity to write back.

In addition to “Operation: Taste of Home,” Hugs for Soldiers holds a Thanksgiving Food Drive, and this holiday more than 1,000 canned food and non-perishable food items were delivered for 90 military families of the 2-69 Armor Battalion at Ft. Benning. They will also collect Valentine cards to send the troops. The deadline for Valentine cards is Jan. 31.

“Many of our Soldiers receive little or no support from home, so a care package or letter lets them know we are supporting and thinking about them,” Doerlich said. “Through our many programs, we hope to put a smile on a Soldier’s face when he hears his name during mail call.”

For more information about Hugs for Soldiers and details on the many programs they hold throughout the year, visit www.hugsforsoldiers.org.

BY: Tana Christian Suggs