Parrish Brownies will be busy at booths over the next four weekends

vmannix@bradenton.comFebruary 21, 2014 

PARRISH

Picture a squad of American soldiers who have just returned to base from a mission in Afghanistan.

They're tired, dirty and counting the days until they rotate home.

There's a care package awaiting them in their billet, they open it and inside are -- surprise! -- Girl Scout cookies.

Imagine those soldiers' smiles.

Eight-year-old twins Kendall and Keirstin Hecht can.

So can 8-year-old Elyssa Fetzner.

"I hope they like them," Kendall said.

That goes for everyone involved in Parrish Girl Scout Brownie Troop 452 at Williams Elementary School. The 12-member troop wants to fill a 5-ton U.S. Army vehicle with Thin Mint cookies for shipment to troops

overseas via MacDill Air Force Base.

It's part of "Mints for the Military," a service project of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, where customers can buy cookies to be donated to active military personnel and veterans.

Last year the organization sent more than 34,000 packages of cookies, but filling that 5-ton truck is Troop 452's unique contribution.

"It's a nice way to connect and let them know we haven't forgotten they're over there serving our country," said Troop 452 co-leader Nancy Fetzner.

Brownie Troop 452 will be selling cookies through March 16.

"We just got ours Saturday, so we are going to be busy," said Troop 452 co-leader Tracy Hecht.

You'll spot the Brownies and their cookie tables over the next four weekends at Publix and 7-Eleven in Parrish, Walgreen's in Ellenton, as well as Walmart and Uppy's in Palmetto.

They've already pre-sold 2,000 boxes.

"It's all going to help the soldiers," Keirstin said.

Though the campaign is called "Mints for the Military," service men and women won't be getting just Thin Mints, understand.

"We'll be sending them everything," Elyssa said.

That includes:

• Samoas/Caramel deLites.

• Do-si-dos/Peanut butter sandwiches.

• Savannah Smiles.

• Tagalongs/Peanut butter patties.

• Chocolate Chip Shortbread.

The last one was Bobby Gavin's favorite when he served with a ground support equipment unit in Iraq.

"There's nothing like Girl Scout cookies, no matter where you are, no matter how old you are," the 27-year-old said. "When we'd get some, everybody would rush to the box. It was a big deal."

Brian Leslie, Hecht's cousin and a former Army MP in Iraq, agreed.

Thin Mints were his favorite.

"When you've got a platoon of 30 guys, they'd go pretty quick," said the 37-year-old. "Getting Girl Scout cookies made it feel like a little bit of home."

Which is the idea.

Troop 452's tables will be decorated with photos of family members who served or serving in the military.

"There are people serving who probably have kids selling Girl Scout Cookies," Hecht said. "So it's a good experience for these girls and I think they a have a good understanding of what that means."

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix.

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