Cookies, cookies and more cookies — that is what was delivered to the offices of MyNeighborsNetwork.com in Great Falls last Saturday morning, Feb. 24. Local Girl Scouts of America troops were able to sell approximately 3,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies designated for shipment by MyNeighborsNetwork.com to U.S. troops serving in the Middle East.
"It's been great," said Sharon Rainey, president and founder of MyNeighborsNetwork.com and its charitable arm, the Neighbors International Foundation. "We have identified about 110 soliders who will receive the boxes so they can share with other troops."
On Saturday morning volunteers of all ages showed up at the Neighbors offices in the Colvin Run shopping center, and everyone worked to unload boxes of Girl Scout cookies and assemble care packages. Rainey plans to send the care packages out in increments over the next couple of weeks.
"I'm going to stagger the shipments, but we are going to send them out quickly because we don't want the cookies to get stale," said Rainey. "We expect to ship the cookies out by March 10, depending on how many volunteers can help."
Rainey has been sending care packages to U.S. troops in the Middle East for the past three years, and according to the correspondence Rainey receives from the soliders, the packages that contain the Girl Scout cookies are always the most popular.
"Plus it's fun when they can anticipate what is going to be coming from us," she said.
Rainey said that she had just received an e-mail on Saturday morning from a soldier who had heard about the Neighbors Foundation and its cookie care packages.
"I don't know how he heard about me, but he said that he was in a remote location with 98 soldiers and that they hardly get any mail out there, so anything we could send would be greatly appreciated," said Rainey.
Local Girl Scout troops have been selling the cookies for the last month. In addition to buying cookies for themselves, purchasers had the option to buy boxes for U.S. troops. Those boxes were sent directly to the MyNeighborsNetwork.com offices. This was done as part of the Girl Scouts of America "Gift of Caring" program which allows individuals to purchase cookies for donation to non-profit organizations.
"I sold 112 boxes for the troops and 375 boxes total," said Natalie Gilbert, a member of Girl Scout Troop 2659, and a resident of Great Falls. "It was pretty easy, and now I get a backpack."
Gilbert's mother, Pam Gilbert, said that the cookie selling process was made easy by their neighbors enthusiasm about having the option to send boxes to American troops.
"We have a lot of retired military in our neighborhood, so they were very supportive," she said.