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KIDS CHIP IN WITH COOKIES FOR TROOPS.

Byline: Betty Kwong Daily News Staff Writer

Conner Comp and his kindergarten classmates can barely pronounce Bosnia, let alone understand why war has ravaged the area for nearly four years.

All that 6-year-old Conner's sure of is that American troops sent overseas on a peacekeeping mission probably would enjoy a home-baked cookie or two.

"They smelled good," he said, studying the plate of chocolate chip cookies he brought to school Thursday. "I got to have some of the cookie dough and Mom let me eat one (of the cookies). . . . I wanted to eat the plate too."

By this afternoon, the two kindergarten classes at Valley Presbyterian School in North Hills will have brought about 150 dozen assorted varieties of home-baked cookies to send to American soldiers.

They're calling it "Operation Cookie Storm" - as much a lesson in patriotism as it is in resisting the temptation of sweets.

Tammi Drey-Gilman of Santa Clarita, whose 5-year-old daughter, Alanah, attends kindergarten at Valley Presbyterian, was inspired by the Pasadena woman who alone baked 37 dozen cookies for the troops.

"When I first told my husband, after reading that story, I said, 'Honey, wouldn't it be fun if we sent cookies over there?' " Drey-Gilman said. "He looked at me out of the corner of his eye and said, 'Why don't you just send a check?' "

True, Drey-Gilman had never done anything like this before, not to mention on this scale. But as the "room mother," a parent volunteer who organizes special occasions for the class, she saw in the cookie drive great opportunities to educate.

"There's a place where some people need to be protected and feel safe, so our soldiers are there making them feel safe," she told the kindergarten class. "Wouldn't it be nice if they felt like we care about them?"

They may be young, but the children got the message.

They went home with notes to their parents. And, then, they baked. And baked.

They did it, Alanah explains, "to make soldiers happy."

At his office off the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, the ceremonial mayor of Hollywood is feeling pretty good about putting ovens to work all over the city. Johnny Grant kicked off the cookie campaign last year upon returning from a 10-day holiday visit with the troops in Bosnia, and he's still getting calls about the cause.

"Just yesterday morning, a lady called me and said, 'I sent some cookies out there and four GIs wrote me a letter,' " Grant said Thursday.

It turns out that since Grant issued his call for cookies, Col. Robert E. Gaylord, the man who receives and distributes the goodies, has been inundated by packages.

"I got a call from Col. Gaylord in Bosnia and he said, 'My God, we not only appreciate the cookies but also the letters of support,' " Grant said.

"I think it's wonderful," Grant said of the campaign's youngest contributors. "It's great training for pride in your country, at such an early age."

To join the cookie campaign, people may send home-baked cookies in care of Col. Robert E. Gaylord, Public Affairs Office (JIB), Tuzla AB - American N.E., APO AE 09789.

Owners of the Packaging Store in Toluca Lake, 10218 Riverside Drive, said they will securely box the goodies at no charge. Senders still have to pay shipping postage.

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PHOTO

Photo Kindergarten pupils at Valley Presbyterian School in North Hills have whipped up about 150 dozen cookies to send to U.S. forces in Bosnia. Phil McCarten/Daily News
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 8, 1996
Words:584
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