American soldiers in Kabul, Afghanistan will soon receive a taste from home.
Girl Scout Troop 138 sent 605 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to the troops this past Saturday, spearheading a project that was a collaborative effort of the entire Baldwinsville Girl Scout Service Unit.
Dee Widger, co-leader of Baldwinsville's Girl Scout Troop 138, said the effort originated with Project Joy.
"Our troop is collecting donations of pens, pencils, writing tablets and more to send to Kabul so that the children can have school supplies," she said. "They are very poor and if they don't have supplies, they will be forced to go to the Taliban schools, where they are taught to hate Americans and trained for combat."
Widger said American soldiers are building schools in the region to provide an alternative to the Taliban schools.
"We hear that there are new troops being deployed as we are shipping these cookies and for most of them this is their first deployment," Widger said. "Several of them are from Jordan, Brewerton, Cayuga and Oswego and they are only 18 to 19 years old."
Troop 138 has seven active members who are sixth and seventh graders at Ray Middle School. The scouts are Gabrielle Widger, Brittany Mertens, Madeline Taft, Ruth Brown, Sage Burkhart, Danielle Alexander and Emily Gizowski. Troop leaders are Widger and Kim Mertens.
"We have had this troop since they were in first grade," Widger said.
Widger learned of Project Joy through Connie Mezzo, who she works with at WMF Photography in Baldwinsville. Mezzo's daughter, Staff Sargent Jeannette (Mezzo) Horton, 26, who was once a Baldwinsville brownie and Girl Scout, is now stationed in Afghanistan.
"Connie told me about Project Joy, which Jeannie had started, and wondered if the girls in our troop would be interested in a community project sending pencils to Kabul," Widger said. "While Jeannie was home on leave last year, she stopped by a Girl Scout meeting to talk to the girls about Project Joy and what she does in the service. The girls were amazed. Jeannie even sent beautiful scarves for the girls in our troop."