Homemade in the U.S.A.
Chocolate chip. Sugar. Peanut butter.
Chances are many people throughout Northeast Pennsylvania have eaten at least one of these cookies during the holiday season or, perhaps, they have partaken in other recipes that have been handed down in their families for generations.
Students from a variety of local schools took those tastes of the season to bring some holiday cheer to military troops serving overseas by participating in “Operation Cookie.”
Operation Cookie began during the 2007 holiday season following the death of Pennsylvania National Guard Sgt. Jan Argonish of Peckville in Afghanistan. Debby Walsh, whose daughter, Talia, was engaged to Argonish, explained that she came up with the idea as a way to make the holidays more bearable for the remaining soldiers deployed in Argonish’s unit.
“That first shipment included cookies made by friends and family, along with a small Christmas tree and decorations to help them celebrate,” she recalled.
Now, seven years later, Operation Cookie has grown into a twice-yearly event. Shipments are made not just during the holidays but also during the Girl Scout Cookie sale season.
Walsh explained how Operation Cookie expanded throughout the region.
“Over the years, we started reaching out to the community through friends and Facebook and have had a tremendous response from local schools, community groups and bakeries,” she said. “We encourage children to make cards and letters. My favorite part of this endeavor is reading the encouraging notes and stories written by the children.”
This year, several local schools participated in Operation Cookie, including Lackawanna Trail High School, Isaac Tripp Elementary School and West Scranton High School. Students at the Career Technology Center (CTC)of Lackawanna County also participated through their culinary arts, visual art and design and child development programs.
George Bohnenberger, a CTC culinary arts student from Abington Heights High School, feels that participating in Operation Cookie gives people the chance to thank those serving in the military.
“I think it is important to be a part of something that gives back to people that give selflessly for me,” he said, “These soldiers don’t have to fight for my freedoms, they choose to. And, in some part, I’d like to give them a little holiday spirit.”
Other CTC students participating in Operation Cookie came from Carbondale Area High School, Dunmore High School, Forest City Regional High School, Lakeland High School, Mid Valley High School, Holy Cross High School, North Pocono High School, Riverside High School, Scranton High School and Valley View High School.
According to Walsh, this year’s Operation Cookie shipments totaled more than 700 pounds of treats, dispersed throughout 32 packages.
For more information on Operation Cookie or to participate in a future shipment, call Walsh at 570-815-4202 or visit www.facebook.com/OperationCookie.