December 12th, 2006 05:00 EST
America Supports You: America Swaps Cookies, Supports Troops
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va., Dec. 11, 2006 – More than 17,000 cookie-swap parties took place Dec. 9 during the “Great American Cookie Swap” to benefit “Treat the Troops,” but only one was “Road Tasted.”
Both DuPont Teflon, which sponsored the event, and Treat the Troops are members of America Supports You, a Defense Department program showcasing Americans’ support for the nation’s servicemembers.
Jamie and Bobby Deen, hosts of the Food Network program “Road Tasted,” made an appearance at the cookie swap Melissa Lewis held at her home here. The brothers are Great American Cookie Swap ambassadors and were on hand to sign autographs and lend their advice and support.
“It’s a tough fight for our men and women on the ground over there, and … you know that families here are missing them; they’re missing their families,” Jamie Deen said. “To receive something like a great fresh-baked cookie just gives them a little taste of home.”
More than just sending a little piece of home to troops overseas, the Great American Cookie swap had a broader effect.
“This is a multifaceted (event),” Deen said. “It helps kids learn to appreciate and recognize the sacrifice that (servicemembers) make.
“Every way you look at it, this is just a super positive project,” he added.
For every party registered with DuPont, the corporation is making a donation to Jeanette Cram’s “Treat the Troops” organization. Treat the Troops is a troop-support organization that sends homemade cookies and other comfort items to servicemembers overseas. Just in November, Treat the Troops sent more than 11,000 cookies to the troops, and postage to ship that many cookies doesn’t come cheap.
“Locally, we spend at least $1,000 a month,” Cram said. That doesn’t take into account what her nearly 50 “crumbs,” as her volunteers are known, around the country spend.
DuPont’s donations will help Cram prepare and send cookies to those serving overseas for an entire year.
“With the generous contribution from DuPont, our member organization, Treat the Troops overcomes its greatest program challenge -- postage,” Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communication and public liaison, said. “DuPont’s commitment makes it possible for Treat the Troops to focus exclusively on what it does best to boost the morale of our soldiers ¬-- bake, package and ship great-tasting cookies to our men and women in uniform serving overseas.”
Cram said the donation will be a tremendous help in getting cookies to as many servicemembers as possible. “It means I don’t have to go out and beg for money,” Cram said, praising America Supports You for bringing “a little small group and a huge corporation” together. “That’s what America is about. It’s about corporate and government and people … coming together for one goal -- the never-complaining soldiers.”
While Treat the Troops takes care of those serving overseas, Melissa Lewis’ party took care of Marines living in barracks on Quantico. She noted that many troops are away from loved ones this holiday season even if they’re not in Iraq or Afghanistan.
“Believe it or not, we have a lot of guys here. We actually even have international soldiers here,” she said, referring to foreign soldiers who attend training here. “It kind of shows them (that) local, U.S., foreign (military), it doesn’t matter. We’re all family. We’re all missing somebody.”
As a Marine wife, Lewis knows first-hand what small thoughtful acts, like sending some homemade cookies, can mean to those overseas.
“There’s times when these guys, they’re out there and when they’re in certain areas they may not get mail for weeks at a time,” Lewis said. “So for them to open up a package and see fresh homemade cookies, … it’s that connection to home and they don’t feel so alone out there.”
Lewis had a little help packaging the more than 100 dozen cookies that were dropped off at her home. Her daughter’s Daisy Girl Scout Troop 224, from Quantico’s Ashurst Elementary School was on hand to offer assistance.
The eight 5-year-olds helped stack tins and plastic containers of cookies. Some of the girls had spent part of their Friday evening helping to bake cookies.
“I decorated them and got all messy,” Hailey Rathbun said. “(The Marines) don’t have families to make them cookies.”
By 4 p.m., all that was left was to load the cars and hand out the tins of holiday cheer, which the Marines in the Quantico barracks were all too happy to receive.
“It’s something that’s so simple, yet so thoughtful,” Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher Dowling, who is assigned to Quantico, said. “This is a good thing,” Marine Lance. Cpl. Matthew Melvin added.