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Candy needed for 20th annual Airmen’s Holiday Cookie Drive

Commercially made, individually wrapped candy of all shapes, sizes and flavors – not cookies, as has been the tradition pre-COVID-19 – will go into cellophane bags for unaccompanied Airmen at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for the 20th annual Airmen’s Holiday Cookie Drive. (Skywrighter file photo)

Commercially made, individually wrapped candy of all shapes, sizes and flavors – not cookies, as has been the tradition pre-COVID-19 – will go into cellophane bags for unaccompanied Airmen at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for the 20th annual Airmen’s Holiday Cookie Drive. (Skywrighter file photo)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Commercially made, individually wrapped candy – not cookies – is the focus of this year’s Airmen’s Holiday Cookie Drive at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, but for Airmen with a sweet tooth, it won’t matter.

The drive is set for Dec. 2 starting at 6 a.m. at the USO Center, Bldg. 1222, Kittyhawk Center, Area A. There are additional curbside drop-off locations for candy donors’ convenience that day from 6 a.m. to noon:

  • Prairies Chapel, Bldg. 6568, 682 Chapel Lane (Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433), accessible to the public
  • Wright Field Fitness Center, Area B
  • National Air and Space Intelligence Center, Area A

For two decades, unaccompanied Airmen at Wright-Patt have been filled with baked goods and the holiday spirit, with first responders and Marines, Army and Navy detachments assigned to the base also treated multiple times.

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things are a little different, said Stacey Underwood, Wright-Patterson Airmen Cookie Drive chair and secretary of the Wright-Patterson Enlisted Spouses’ Club. Her spouse, Tech. Sgt. Adam Underwood, works at NASIC and assists her with some aspects of the drive.

“The safety of our Airmen is our number one priority, so our cookies will have to ‘socially distance’ until next year,” she said. “Instead, we will gratefully accept bags of individually wrapped candy – things like candy canes, chocolate bars and hard candy that is individually wrapped.”

The group consulted with the 88th Medical Group’s Public Health Flight as they planned this year’s event. All volunteers will be wearing masks and gloves and packing the candy into cellophane bags with a festive closure.

“The candy drive is an excellent way to let our unaccompanied Airmen and others know we are thinking about them and to raise morale,” she continued. “It’s not the same as home-baked cookies but it’s still something sweet, something nice to have.”

The event also raises the volunteers’ morale, Underwood added.

“It makes you feel like you are doing something for others, and your time spent organizing and fundraising worth it. When you see the candy go out – when the first sergeants pick it up, and when we deliver to Security Forces and elsewhere – it makes you feel happy that you’re bringing a little bit of cheer to them,” she said.

The filled bags will be collected by first sergeants and delivered by the end of the week.

 “Because we are accepting candy instead of home-baked cookies, we are placing decorated boxes Nov. 20 through Dec. 1 at the commissary, base exchange, National Air and Space Intelligence Center and the Prairies Housing Office,” Underwood said.

In prior years, the event has garnered more than 30,000 cookies.

“It’s really a community event and we’re grateful to everybody who donates, gets up early to bring their donation in, volunteers – it makes me happy to see this community involvement,” she said.

The candy drive is sponsored by the Wright-Patterson Enlisted Spouses’ Club, Wright-Patterson Officers’ Spouses’ Club, First Sergeants Council and the United Service Organization of Central and Southern Ohio. Other organizations lending their support include First Command Financial Planning and the Air Force Sergeants Association Kittyhawk Chapter 751.

Any questions may be directed to wrightpattcookies@yahoo.com.