It’s Girl Scout Cookie season, and while the magic of the internet gives us year-round access to cookie-themed swag (Samoa keychain, anyone?), those with a sweet tooth must rely on local councils to order their beloved Do-Si-Dos and Tagalongs.
But siblings Katie and James Gildersleeve are spreading the love beyond the borders of their community. The Lake Forest High School students, 15 and 17, respectively, run Treats for Troops—a nonprofit organization that provides local military service members with care packages from local families. On Saturday, February 29 at Starbucks on Sheridan Road in Highwood, they will host a special event to collect and send Girl Scout Cookies to soldiers stationed overseas. The goal is to provide a reminder (and taste) of home at a time and place where they most need comfort.
Treats for Troops was born as a personal exchange between the siblings and a single female service member. However, their “adoptee” promptly provided the Gildersleeves with the names of fellow soldiers who were also interested in receiving care packages. From there the organization took off. Today, the brother and sister work with commanding officers based at Fort Sheridan to put them in contact with deployed soldiers. They also host large community events to attract new families who are interested in adopting service members.
In October, Treats for Troops hosted an event where 2,500 socks donated by Bombas were wrapped and mailed as holiday gifts. Volunteers who helped package the items and write cards were paired off with soldiers in the process.
“Getting the families willing to send care packages is the easy part,” the Gildersleeves said in a joint email. “It has been so great to see how kind and generous people are through this process.” For their upcoming event, the pair enlisted their dentist, Dr. Laniel Razdolsky of Lake Forest Dental Associates, for help. For every box of Girl Scout Cookies purchased by one of his patients, one will be donated to the organization for the Leap Day event.
The Gildersleeves also depend on the generosity of their local Starbucks for assistance. In addition to staff members who introduce them to soldiers from nearby Fort Sheridan, the shop hosts Treats for Troops events, donates coffee for care packages, and helps with shipping.
“We realized that our missions were similar in wanting to send comforts of home overseas,” they wrote. “By working together we can reach as many soldiers as possible.”
So far, their efforts have been met with heartwarming expressions of gratitude.
“We love getting cards and emails from the soldier we adopted, and from those that receive packages from our larger scale events,” the Gildersleeves wrote. “We think the most touching thank you note was from our soldier, who said that receiving our care package was the highlight of her month and that she has all the cards we sent her hung up on the wall there. It is so nice to know that we can brighten her day even a little, considering all the sacrifices she is making for our country.”
Treats for Troops’ Girl Scout Cookie event will take place from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, February 29 at Starbucks, 950 Sheridan Road in Highwood.