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Sending troops a taste of home.

In my experience, there are two simple words capable of making a room aboard any deployed ship go silent for a second or two. The same two words are so powerful, dozens of adults swarm to their division's mail petty officer like a pack of famished ants descending on a sloppily prepared picnic.

And, as I can surely attest, two unpretentious words can single-handedly increase an enlisted man's morale when deployed overseas.

Those words? "Mail call!" It's like music to my ears.

It shouldn't be hard to figure out why mail call is such an integral part of a Sailor's life. On deployment, anything even hinting at a little touch of home is a welcome sight. Depending on the message or photos, it can even bring a person to tears.

But when that heart-felt message from home comes fully equipped with fare of the palate-pleasing variety, it's even better.

Some people get delicacies from their wives, grandmothers or mothers. But, some people receive their sweet tooth fulfillment in the form of a guilty pleasure steeped in the finest traditions of the United States of America.

Girl Scout cookies. (Doesn't it make you hungry just looking at it in print?)

We all should know by now the magnetized influence those little wintertime treats have on the American landscape. Every January, through order forms and Scouts working booths outside of grocery stores, millions of people spend a chunk of their early-year budget to satisfy their deep-seated cravings for Thin Mints (among other flavors).

And during the last several years, Sailors deployed out of the Naples, Italy, area have been able to join the rest of America in satisfying their taste buds via the Treats-to-Troops Program. This program lets people "sponsor" boxes of Girl Scout cookies, with an accompanying message, to be sent to servicemen deployed around the world.

The program was the brainchild of Naval Air Mediterranean Repair Activity (NAMRA) employee Emilie Heroldwebber. Heroldwebber, a Navy spouse and Army veteran, was serving as the leader of Brownie Troop 67 when she realized her troop had just the recipe to sweeten NAMRA team deployments.

"I thought it would be a great idea if my troop sent cookies to the detachment," she said. "After talking to some other leaders, they thought it was a great idea, too, so we decided to try it on a neighborhood level."

That was back in early 2003, when a NAMRA aircraft mechanic team departed fur a deployment to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This tiny program ended up having so much success the Scouts decided to continue the program during their 2004 sales period with a sales range extended past the NAMRA troops.

"We hope to spread the treats to as many troops as we can," Heroldwebber said. "I think the program is a great morale booster for people to show their support in a small way.... This is something the girls feel great about, and I know that it will make a difference in the day of our service members fighting for our freedom and the freedom of so many others in the world,"

The Girl Scouts are known throughout the country for making a difference in society through their many generous humanitarian causes. Now they can revel in the fact that their contributions are making an impact worldwide.

Oh, and they' re making sure they keep everyone's sweet tooth happy as well. When is mail call?

Ludwig is a photojournalist assigned to All Hands.
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Title Annotation:The Final Word
Author:Ludwig, Charles L.
Publication:All Hands
Date:May 1, 2004
Previous Article:Eye on History.
Next Article:Speaking with Sailors.

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