A cookie break
Service project sends boxes of treats to soldiers

DULUTH - Eight-year-old Melissa Coleman, a three-year Girl Scout member, said it best. When soldiers are off fighting in a war, she said, the last thing they have time to think about is cookies.

So with no cookie time for the fighting troops, another set of troops is making sure that when those soldiers do have a free minute the cookies will be there waiting for them.

That's the logic behind the service project program created by the nonprofit Hugs for Soldiers group. It's entitled "Operation: Taste of Home," and by partnering with the Duluth Service Unit of the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, the program gets 550 girls from 57 different girl scout troops to box-up donated boxes of Girl Scout cookies to be sent to American soldiers serving overseas.

This year the effort consisted of collecting and packaging about 2,300 boxes of girl scout cookies.

According to troop leader Pamela Nye, who is also Coleman's mother, the Hugs for Soldiers program was a perfect fit for local girl scouts.

"It seems like participation in this program has been increasing the last few years and the national girl scout office encourages local service projects," Nye said. "And my girls have a stronger connection to it because we sent cookies to my brother in Iraq a few years ago when he was serving there."

Nye's other daughter Sarah, age 6, also participated in the effort.

According to the founder of Hugs for Soldiers, Angie Doerlich, the soldiers serving overseas are often in stressful situations. 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 the Hugs for Soldiers program is now in its sixth year of operation and she thanked the girl scouts for their continued participation. She also said Girl Scout cookies are consistently one of the most requested items by soldiers serving overseas.

That made sense to Coleman.

"I think everybody in the world likes Thin Mints," she said.

For more information or to donate to Hugs for Soldiers, visit www.hugsforsoldiers.org or call 404-316-8183.

For more information on the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, visit www.girlscouts