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Maine Girl Scouts send cookies overseas to soldiers

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Members of Girl Scout Troop 650 from Pittsfield and soldiers watch as Girl Scout Cookies are unloaded at the Maine Air National Guard Base in Bangor on Tuesday afternoon, June 14, 2011. The 44,000 boxes of cookies will be distributed among the guard and reserve units in Maine. The Girl Scouts throughout Maine raised money for about 40 percent of the cookies and the rest was donated by ABC Cookies, the company that produces the sweets for the Girl Scouts.
By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Second in line behind homemade cookies from grandma may be Girl Scout Cookies sent from home.

“Anything from home is great and it’s always appreciated,” Tech. Sgt. Robert Baker of Hampden, a member of the Maine Air National Guard’s 101st Air Refueling Wing, said Tuesday as thousands upon thousands of boxes of Girl Scout Cookies were unloaded at the Bangor airbase.

Local Girl Scout and Brownie troops from all over Maine joined together this year as part of “Operation Cookie Drop” to collect the coveted cookies and send them to troops serving in Maine as well as overseas.

“This is the first time we’ve done this and 44,000 boxes is a lot,” said Girl Scout Kali Doiron, 13, a member of Troop 650 of Pittsfield.

She stood with Lexi Caldwell and Miranda Kuespert, both also 13, and others in her troop watching as the cookies were unloaded from a tractor-trailer. Girl Scouts and Brownie members from Troop 921 and Troop 350 of Bangor and Veazie also were on hand.

Kuespert’s father, Staff Sgt. Thomas Kuespert, serves with the 619th Transportation Company, which has a detachment in Dexter, and has been deployed twice in the young Scout’s lifetime.

For soldiers like her dad, “it’s good to have something from home,” she said.

The youngster said if her dad, who shared his experiences in Iraq with her fellow Scouts after returning home two years ago, was deployed again, he would love to get a box of Girl Scout Cookies.

The girls took Operation Cookie Drop on as a community service project and ran with it, said Connie Goulatis, chief advancement officer for Girl Scouts of Maine.

“This year we encouraged the public to buy and donate cookies for the military,” she said. “The baker, ABC Bakery, basically matched that amount. The girls in Maine did a great job.”

When the troops get the cookies, “we hope that they‘ll know we’re thinking of them and appreciate all they do for us,” Goulatis said.

In addition to the Bangor airbase, cookies were dropped off Tuesday at the South Portland Air National Guard Station and at the Buker Community Center in Augusta.

“The girls raised about 10 pallets and ABC Bakery donated the rest,” said Andrew “Drew” Matlins, Airman and Family Readiness Program Manager for the MAINEiacs.

A $2,500 donation from AT&T is helping to pay for shipping the goodies to troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Qater and Kuwait, he said.

“We have to use the postal service just like everyone else,” Matlins said. With the AT&T donation, 125 cases will be shipped overseas.”

Transit aircraft going to Europe or the Middle East through Bangor will be tapped to transport some cookies overseas, if they have room, and Matlins also plans to give some to the Maine Troop Greeters.

Owen Smith, regional vice president for AT&T, called Girl Scout Cookies “a tradition we’ve all grown up with” and added that “we all enjoy Girl Scout Cookies and there is no reason why our service folk shouldn’t.”

Baker, who has two young children and has been deployed on small missions to 30 countries over the past eight years, said that anytime he’s overseas and gets a package from home, it puts a smile on his face.

“It’s a little piece of home,” he said, adding that Caramel deLites are his favorite Girl Scout Cookie.

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