Talk about a seriously sweet send-off. On Saturday, San Diego Girl Scouts and supporters gathered on the flight deck of USS Midway to watch a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter take away thousands of boxes of cookies, all destined to be delivered to U.S. military troops overseas.
“The helicopter came and the people went down to net the cookies and tied it to the helicopter and they just took off with it,” explained Girl Scout Jade Jocson. “[The net] dangled from the bottom of the helicopter – all those cookies. It was all cases of Thin Mints. It was cool.”
The cookie airlift was all part of Operation Thin Mint, a program that originated in San Diego County in 2002 designed to provide cookies and support to U.S. service men and women deployed overseas.
Girl Scouts accept donations for the program each year from cookie customers and use that money to send boxes of the sweet treats to the troops.
Over the past 12 years, Operation Thin Mint has been able to send more than 2.5 million boxes of cookies to service members serving in Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa, Japan, Korea, and the Persian Gulf, Western Pacific and Indian Ocean.
“Wherever service members are, they’ll get Girl Scout cookies from San Diego,” explained Jo Dee Jacob, CEO of Girl Scouts San Diego. “Operation Thin Mint is about a taste of home and a note to show that we care. All of us have friends, neighbors, family members that are in the military. San Diego is a military town and we want to tell them that we care.”
Jacob said the program gets solid support year after year from San Diegans and eager Girl Scouts who do their best to raise money for the program. In turn, Jacob said Girl Scouts learn “patriotism, community service and caring” through Operation Thin Mint.
With a long journey abroad to the troops, Jacob said the cookies are packaged with much care. They’re sent in special, air-conditioned containers to keep them from melting.
“We make sure that they’re delicious on arrival,” added Jacob.
Though several Girl Scouts from San Diego Troop 4466 said selling cookies and collecting donations for the program is “hard work,” they’re happy to do it.
Jocson said many of her customers like donating to Operation Thin Mint once she explains what it’s all about.
“[I tell them] Operation Thin Mint is where you donate money – any type, any lose change – and it will go to cookies. We will buy cookies to the military abroad,” she said.
Saturday’s send-off party at USS Midway was the 10th annual celebration of its kind on the flight deck.
Jacob said more than 3,000 people attended the free event in support. Each Girl Scout in attendance received a star patch and mini U.S. Flag as a token of thanks for their efforts in continuing to make Operation Thin Mint a sweet, sweet success.