Girl Scout cookies tagalong with US troops
By ALLISON BATDORFF | The Record-Eagle, Traverse City, Mich. | Published: March 19, 2017
TRAVERSE CITY (Tribune News Service) — Boxes for immediate consumption, check. Boxes for the freezer, check.
Girl Scout cookie sellers know clients order with a strategy in mind, but the Allen sisters are giving their customers a new box to check — cookies for U.S. troops overseas.
So while their buyers fill their bellies and freezers, the Allen family's Traverse City laundry room fills with cookie boxes destined for the Middle East.
"I say, 'Hello. My name is Amanda. Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?' Then I ask if they want to buy for themselves, or donate them to troops, or both," said Amanda, 11.
It's an effective pitch; she sold 1,600 boxes for the troops this year, and this Sunday — Girl Scout Troop 10037 hosts a packing party at Bowen-Holliday American Legion Post 35 at 1231 Hastings St. starting at 1 p.m. — they will put the stamp on a total of more than 11,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies since Amanda's older sister Meredith started the project in 2009.
"We're so busy and involved in so many things that we wanted to have something we could do together," Meredith said of the program's start. "As a family we decided to help these vets. My dad was always involved with veterans, and him being a veteran himself inspired me."
Meredith and Amanda's father, politician Jason Allen, served in the Michigan National Guard. Their mom, Suzanne, director of community responsibility for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, stacks the cookie boxes in their laundry room. Their 5-year-old brother Mark sorts the boxes by color.
"It's a labor of love," Suzanne said.
The community helps too: their Girl Scout troop adopts the project as a "Gift of Caring." This year Grand Traverse Diesel donated the shipping costs. The Grand Traverse Veterans Coalition, VFW Post 2780, the American Legion Riders and the Disabled American Veterans also chip in.
This year Michigan National Guard units stationed in Afghanistan and troops from the Traverse City area will get care packages filled with a variety of Tagalongs, Thin Mints, Samoas, Trefoils, Savannah Smiles, Toffee 'Tastics, Do-Si-Dos and S'mores.
Everyone has their favorite cookie — or say, gluten intolerance — that is best served by variety, the sisters said.
Even in rugged conditions and combat zones, the troops salute their efforts. Meredith, now 17, and Amanda have Skyped with grateful units downrange and received a number of thank-you letters and emails, they said.
One recipient showed up to a packing party and said, "I enjoyed getting these cookies and I've come to help," they said.
Amanda's favorite: an email from a military dentist in northern Afghanistan. She figured it contained a lecture about sugar, she said. It didn't.
"He said, 'I'm so grateful that you do this,'" Amanda said. "He told me that (in weather conditions and shipping) the cookies had melted and froze, and that they were eating them like sticks of beef jerky."
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