News>Cookie drive delivers holiday warmth during Alaskan winter
Brenda Lee Restey boxes cookies Dec. 14 at the Yukon Club at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The boxed cookies will be delivered via squadron first sergeants to single Airmen living in Eielson AFB's dormitories. The holiday gesture is part of Operation Cookie Crunch, a yearly event organized and sponsored by the Eielson Officer's Spouses Club. Mrs. Restey is the wife of Col. Michael Restey, who is with the 354th Medical Group and currently deployed to Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Nora Anton)
A box of homemade cookies gets the finishing touches put on it before being picked up for delivery during Operation Cookie Crunch Dec. 14 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The Eielson Officer's Spouses Club sponsors and organizes the yearly event. More than 550 homemade cookies are dropped off and packaged by volunteers and then delivered by squadron first sergeants to single Airmen living in the dormitories as a holiday gesture. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Nora Anton)
Airman 1st Class Claudia Arce receives cookies packaged for Operation Cookie Crunch from Master Sgt. Michelle Vanderbunt Dec. 14 in the 354th Communication Squadron and 354th Fighter Wing Staff Agency dormitory. The squadron first sergeants disperse the homemade cookies to single Airmen living in the dormitories as a holiday gesture. Airman Arce is a 354th Force Support Squadron personnelist and Sergeant Vanderbunt is the 354th FSS first sergeant. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Nora Anton)
12/19/2007 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Volunteers gathered more than 5,500 cookies for the single Airmen living in the dormitories Dec. 14 during Operation Cookie Crunch at Eielson Air Force Base.
"The importance of the cookie drive is for morale building," said Jeanette Pauer, OCC project coordinator and wife of Lt. Col. Brett Pauer, a member of the 353rd Combat Training Squadron. "Providing home-baked cookies for our single Airmen is a simple sentiment that sends a message that there is big family here at Eielson who appreciates them."
With temperatures (at times) dipping down to minus 30 F, the harsh cold and dark environment of Interior Alaska poses some unique challenges. However, those challenges didn't prevent volunteers at Eielson AFB from contributing to the project.
"The Air and Ground Equipment flight put spot heaters to blow hot air on us to keep us warm outside while collecting the cookies being dropped off," Mrs. Pauer said.
More than 20 volunteers helped make the event a success with everything from collecting cookies at the cookie drive, through drop-off, to wrapping and boxing up cookies, not to forget the countless cookie-contributors who spent that extra time in their holiday season to bake cookies for the Eielson AFB Airmen, said club members.
Elementary school classes from Anderson and Crawford Elementary Schools on base also pitched in, Mrs. Pauer said.
Denise Nosce's 3rd Grade class at Crawford Elementary School, spent two days making cookies as a class lesson with fractions and Sandra Bell's 2nd and 3rd grad classes at Anderson Elementary School made more than 300 Christmas cards for the volunteers to include with the cookies.
"They're really awesome," Mrs. Pauer said.
At the end of the Cookie Crunch, squadron first sergeants picked up loads of the boxed cookies and dispersed them throughout the dormitories to the single Airmen.
Thanks to those volunteers and bakers, Airmen will get to a touch of holiday warmth this holiday season, despite the cold temperatures.