Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sweet Gratitude

Look what I found in my mailbox last week! It's a letter from the master chief of the soldiers to whom I sent my most recent round of Baking GALS cookies. I've sent off several rounds of cookies now, but this is the first time I've ever heard anything back from my soldiers. I'm sure it has at least something to do with the fact that this is the only batch I've sent to a domestic destination instead of overseas. It was very kind of the officer to send a quick thank you, and it filled me with gladness knowing that doing my little bit really did help.

Speaking of helping, it just so happens that Operation Baking GALS is looking for more cookie deployment volunteers! Round 11 is open and accepting volunteers, so head on over to the Baking GALS site and join a team (first you have to create a log-in name). There are eight teams and corresponding soldiers to choose from this time around, including the bonus hospital team that I sent my last batch of goodies to. I still haven't decided which team I'm going to join forces with for round 11. I may bake for the bonus hospital team again, although Team Heather Drive is sponsoring a neat-sounding soldier as well.

In other news, Operation Baking GALS is officially one year old. Happy anniversary, patriotic baking ladies! In honor of their birthday, the Baking GALS founders are giving away a bunch of prizes. There are loads of chances to win via blogs, email, Twitter, Facebook, and more. There's even a Baking GALS IQ test! So while you're picking out a team, why not enter a few giveaways as well?

Are you wondering what exactly Baking GALS is all about? I'll let the creators tell you in their own words:

Baking GALS (GALS stands for Give A Little Support) is a group of volunteer bakers who bake and ship homemade goodies to our heroic troops that are currently deployed. Each soldier is “Hosted” by a blogger, and potential bakers are “recruited” from the bloggers own site as well as the GALS site. Each Host recruits between 20-25 bakers, meaning LOTS of goodies get delivered to our soldier…so many, in fact that he or she has plenty to share with their fellow troops!

Why do we do it this way? Why not just ship to “Any Soldier”? Well, we don’t know “any soldier” – and “any soldier” doesn’t know us. And receiving baked goods from a stranger, while probably safe, is frowned upon and in many cases, those Any Soldier gifts could be thrown out. Baking GALS will introduce you to a soldier. You will know his name, a little bit about him, maybe even his favorite cookie…and he will know in advance that he will be on the receiving end of a cookie bombardment – so everyone is prepared. It is a safer way to treat our troops, and it helps them to know when to expect a barrage of goodies.

Let me tell you why I bake. I send off cookies because it's fun to think of desert-living soldiers digging into a box of more or less freshly baked treats that inspire thoughts of home, of loved ones, of why they serve. I enjoy the camaraderie of the other bloggers who bake, and meeting new people via this mutual connection. I do it because I can, and because I think it's a good cause.

If you bake for the military -- or any other group, for that matter -- what are your reasons? And if you don't -- why not? It's cheap, easy, and makes you feel all good inside.

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"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King