2012-07-05 / Front Page
Local girl scouts bring cookies to wounded troops
Troop 81737 of So. Bruns. donates 21 cases to the Bethesda Naval Hospital
This year, however, the scouts decided to make personal deliveries.
The seven Scout Ambassadors, who will be high school seniors next year, traveled to Bethesda, Md. on June 22 to hand out boxes of cookies to hospitalized troops at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, locally called the Bethesda Naval Hospital.
They passed out 15 cases of cookies to wounded servicemen and servicewomen at the hospital’s residence hall, where they are rehabilitating. Visitors must be 18 years old to enter the hospital, so the girls, aged 16 and 17, handed over six more cases to be given to those being treated within the hospital.
Troop Leader Gina Zielinski, who started sending cookies overseas when her son, Christopher Watson, became a U.S. Marine eight years ago, explained why the troop felt it necessary to make this trip to Maryland.
“They were talking about all the wounded soldiers and about how when they come back, they are more or less forgotten and that they wanted to say, ‘Thank you,’” she said .
According to Zielinski, who has served as troop leader since the girls were Brownies, the injured service members appreciated both the donations and the time the girls took to see them.
“They were very pleased that they were remembered,” she said. “It was heart-wrenching to see them. Some were missing three limbs, but their attitudes are so upbeat and amazing.”
The troop raised $1,000 for the trip. They received monetary donations from the Moose Lodge in South Brunswick, theAmerican Legion posts of Monmouth Junction and Milltown, the South Brunswick Republican Organization, and many private individuals. Before a monthly meeting, Lt. John Farnkopf, of South Brunswick’s American Legion Post 401, presented the troop with a donation for the cookies.
“The American Legion is all about supporting our troops, our veterans, and our community,” said Gary Cooper, post commander. “Girl Scout cookies are a part of Americana. We’ve been eating them since we were kids. Post 401 is proud to support this project, and we thank the girls and their leaders for bringing a taste of home to our hospitalized troops.” Zielinski said the trip was an enlightening experience for her troop, making the realities of war starkly clear.
“I don’t think people realize that we are in a war and that people out there sacrifice a normal way of life to protect how we’re used to living,” she said. “I wanted my girls to see that. When you see these young men, there is no doubt we are at war.” Contact Deanna McLafferty at DMcLafferty@gmnews.com.