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Airmen’s Holiday Cookie Drive: Festive Wright-Patt tradition continues

Hundreds of boxes of donated, homemade cookies are ready for distribution while volunteers pack more.The cookie drive was sponsored by the Wright-Patterson Enlisted Spouses Club, Wright-Patterson Officers Spouses Club, First Command, First Sergeants Council, United Service Organization of Central and Southern Ohio and the City of Fairborn. (U.S. Air Force photo/R.J. Oriez)

Hundreds of boxes of donated, homemade cookies are ready for distribution while volunteers pack more.The cookie drive was sponsored by the Wright-Patterson Enlisted Spouses Club, Wright-Patterson Officers Spouses Club, First Command, First Sergeants Council, United Service Organization of Central and Southern Ohio and the City of Fairborn. (U.S. Air Force photo/R.J. Oriez)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Unaccompanied and single Airmen at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base are once again munching on holiday cookies, thanks to behind-the-scenes work to put together hundreds of boxes of baked goods.

For 17 years, the annual Airmen’s Holiday Cookie Drive has been held following Thanksgiving, with volunteers baking, dropping off and packaging thousands of holiday-themed and regular goodies into boxes destined for hungry – and grateful – Airmen.

A packing-the-boxes event was held Dec. 6 at the USO Community Center, Bldg. 1222, Kittyhawk Center, Area A, where cookies were dropped off. Bakers also had the option of delivering their contributions to Chapel 1 near the Prairies, the National Air and Space Intelligence Center and Wright Field Fitness Center. Drive organizers hoped to get enough cookies to feed up to 2,000 Airmen.

First responders from the 88th Security Forces Squadron and the Wright-Patterson Fire Department also benefited from the event.

As he delivered cookies baked by his daughter, Paul McHenry of NASIC recalled when he was stationed in Saudi Arabia during the ’90s and received holiday cookies.

“They were the best thing that happened to me,” he said, adding that he has contributed cookies at Wright-Patt ever since its cookie drive began.

First sergeants picked up the cookies the day after the box assembly and delivered them by the end of the week, either placing them on the recipient’s bed or workplace desk.

Master Sgt. Matthew Simon of NASIC said it can be especially hard being away from home during the holidays. He has spent most of the 21-plus years of his career away from home during holidays and said receiving holiday goodies helped bridge that gap. This is his second year of picking up and delivering cookies to Airmen here, and he was scheduled to do so for 53 individuals.

“They very much appreciate the cookies,” he said. “They anticipate it.”

Beth Parker, vice president of the Wright-Patterson Enlisted Spouses Club and the wife of Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Parker of NASIC, assisted with the Dec. 6 event. She baked 31 dozen peanut butter, snickerdoodle, sugar, spritz and M&M cookies. Having served for four years as an Air Force information manager, she said she understands what it is like to receive a taste of home and was happy to assist with the cookie drive.

“It gives you a nice, warm feeling. Being able to give these to our single Airmen is amazing,” she said.

Kindra McPhail, ESC president and one of the points of contact for the cookie drive, said the sweet goods are eagerly awaited by their recipients.

“People went all-out this year, and the cookies are decorated beautifully. Thank you to everyone who made this possible,” she said.

The cookie drive was sponsored by the Wright-Patterson Enlisted Spouses Club, Wright-Patterson Officers Spouses Club, First Command, First Sergeants Council, United Service Organization of Central and Southern Ohio and the City of Fairborn.