A taste of home
Girl Scouts lead drive to send cookies to US troops

COVINGTON - Troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are soon going to get a very special delivery and a taste of home, thanks to the generosity of one very ambitious Girl Scout.

On Wednesday morning, a truck containing 10,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies was unloaded at the Covington National Guard Armory. The cookies were a donation to Operation Sandbox, a nonprofit organization that sends care packages to troops overseas.

Helping to unload the boxes was Ginny Fahs, a 17-year-old Scout from Buckhead who was seeing the realization of a goal she'd been working on since last summer.

A long-time Girl Scout, Fahs was looking for a more interesting angle to the annual cookie sale fundraiser. She heard through word of mouth that the cookies are a favorite treat for the troops and decided to start a donation campaign.

"It was a project I decided to do on my own. There was no Girl Scout requirement. I thought it would be cool," she said.

Not sure how to get the cookies overseas, Fahs did some research and found out about Operation Sandbox, which is headquartered in Newton County and is run by volunteers from Newton and Rockdale.

Fahs contacted Operation Sandbox founder Virginia Pearson, who told her "to send as many cookies as we could collect."

Fahs wound up getting participation from 1,000 Scouts ranging in age from 5 to 18, representing 50 troops in the Buckhead Service Unit.

During their regular door-to-door sales pitch, the Scouts would ask customers to make a monetary donation for the soldiers. They took any amount offered, from $5 to $50.

Fahs also sent letters to the parents of students at her high school, Westminster Schools, and had her dad, Reade Fahs, who does business with military bases, hit up his contacts.

Once selling season ended in late January, they counted the money and divided that by the cost of cookies to determine how many boxes they could buy. The total was a whopping 10,000 boxes.

The cookies began arriving in late February and have been piling up in the Fahs' garage ever since.

Fahs initially planned to deliver the cookies in her mom Katie's mini-van, but realized, "We'd have to make about 30 trips."

Greg Jordan, the father of one of Fahs' classmates who used to own a moving company, offered use of a truck. Jordan helped unload the cookies Wednesday morning, along with Fahs, her mother and brother, and soldiers on duty at the armory.

Pearson said volunteers will start mailing the cookies next week to troops on her regular mailing list. They'll also go to a military hospital in Baghdad.

The majority of the cookies will go to the Georgia National Guard's 48th Brigade, including soldiers with Covington-based Company B 1/121st Infantry, who will deploy in the next few weeks.

"What better way to send a touch of home to our troops than a box of Girl Scout cookies, because it's all-American," Pearson said.

Sgt. Bob Swanson with Company B 1/121st knows firsthand the pleasures of chowing down on some yummy Samoas in the hot desert.

When he was in Iraq in 2003, Swanson's unit benefited from a shipment sent by the Girl Scouts.

"We didn't have showers or hot food or so much as a Porta John, much less a toilet, but we did manage to have cookies," he said. "What's that saying, there's nothing more American than apple pie, baseball and hot dogs? I think you can put Girl Scout cookies on that list, too. It's really very special what the Girl Scouts did to come and provide that for us. The soldiers are not going to have many comforts from home, so that will be a nice thing for them."

Swanson said the cookies hold up pretty well even after being shipped thousands of miles.

"They survive pretty well, even the chocolate ones. If you put them in the shade and cool them down to the 90s, they're usually pretty good," he said, adding that the cookies are rarely crumbled because they're packed so well in the plastic sleeves.

Fahs said she's thrilled to have her project meet a successful conclusion.

"It was so great. I'm really, really happy with the result, and I'm sure the troops overseas will be really happy to receive them," she said.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.