SOS Cookies volunteers make final shipment of sweets to US Troops

ROSELAND — Nearly two dozen members gathered at the Roseland Community Building Thursday evening to pack up countless boxes of an untold number of cookies and sweets to send overseas to US solidiers.

“It means so much to the soldiers,” box packer Winona Hanks said as she deftly arranged bags of homemade cookies, brownies, candy canes and packages of hot chocolate in a box.

The volunteers will travel to the Sebastian Post Office today to ship out the boxes to various US military stations around the world. The majority, though, will be headed to the Middle East. Organizer Rita Richter said the group, Send Our Soldiers Cookies, recently received a note from a military mom whose two sons are serving the country. One is in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan, Richter said.

“They love these,” fellow box packer Harriet Washer said of the “taste of home” boxes the group mails out monthly.

This month’s shipment, though, holds a little more sentimental value for the group, being the Holiday shipment.

“It’s hard,” Washer said of the military service men and women this time of year. The boxes are “a little bit of a thank you – but it’s not enough. Never enough.”

Retired Post Master Eugene Hyden was tasked with assembling the boxes and then taping them up for shipment.

“I ought to know how to pack up the boxes,” he said, wielding a tape gun and making short work of sealing the seams. “It’s for a good cause – poor fellas in the heat.”

Not content to only contribute his box-making skills, Hyden baked 14 dozen Christmas variety cookies.

“Everyone helps,” he said.

Richter said that shipments have been going well the last few months, noting that they sent 19 boxes in November, 22 in October and 16 in September.

Even monetary donations have been coming in to help offset the volunteers’ costs of shipping the boxes. Each box costs about $12.50 to mail, Richter said. And, on average, a monthly shipment runs $250.

“This is a good place to live,” Richter said, explaining that many times when they make their box delivery to the Post Office, someone helps unload the boxes or pay to ship at least one package.

The employees at the Post Office, too, have been a treat to work with, Richter said, naming Mary as one in particular who makes the trip enjoyable.

“I’m still positively thrilled to go there,” Richter said.

Although donations have been fairly steady, SOS Cookies continues to be in need of the community’s assistance.

Along with seeking more bakers and names of soldiers to send cookies to, the group is also looking for financial assistance to continue shipping the boxes.

Richter said the group would also be willing to accept donations of ingredients commonly used in cookies.

For more information about how to help or to get involved, call Rita Richter at (772) 388-5920 or e-mail e-mail or Financial donations may be made out to SOS Cookies and sent to SOS Cookies, 608 Atlantus Terrace, Sebastian, FL 32958.

SOS Cookies meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month at the Roseland Community Building, 12973 Bay St., Sebastian.

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