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Port Orchard woman part of national cookie network

Teri Fornwalt, shown here in the Port Orchard Post Office,sends at least two boxes of fresh cookies each month to soldiers in war zones.  - Charlie Bermant
Teri Fornwalt, shown here in the Port Orchard Post Office,sends at least two boxes of fresh cookies each month to soldiers in war zones.
— image credit: Charlie Bermant

A Port Orchard woman has joined a national network of people who bake cookies for soldiers and send them to battle zones.

“The idea is to send soldiers a taste of home,” said Teri Fornwalt of her membership in Baking Gals. “It makes them feel good to know that someone back home cares about them, even if it is someone they have never met.”

Fornwalt heard about Baking Gals last summer, and decided to participate because she wanted to do something for the troops. She had some free time on her hands, and she loves to bake--frustrating, because her husband no longer eats sweets.

She contacted the Baking GALS (for “Give a Little Support”) and signed on as a team leader. By connecting to the organization’s command center she receives a schedule and addresses where the cookies are to be shipped. This is run like a well-oiled military operation, and is designed to control the flow of the cookies. So one serviceman or woman won’t get hundreds of boxes of cookies all at once.

At the same time, the effort is coordinated so all recipients get their packages simultaneously “the individual feels bombarded with love and appreciation and shares with the others around them.”

Each month is divided into a “round,” with February as the 16th month since the effort began.

Fornwalt does not have a full-time job. Her priorities are to be a wife, mother, and Bruce Springsteen fan, not necessarily in order of importance. She has seen Springsteen dozens of times, and drops everything when the singer comes to town.

It didn’t take long for her appreciation of Springsteen to intersect with the cookie project. While developing her team she reached out to people on Springsteen’s website, getting almost 30 immediate responses.

This is an appropriate response because Springsteen’s fans have a compassion and social consciousness lacking in fans of, say, Kanye West.

As a result, Springsteen CDs are a part of every cookie package Formwalt sends out.

Fornwalt seals the cookies in tupperware-like containers and wraps them carefully, adding other goodies such as candy and trail mix. She is a friend of local writer Gregg Olsen, and included copies of his latest book, “Victim Six,” in the two boxes she sent out earlier this month.

She ships the cookies directly through the United States Post Office, taking about a week to get to Iraq or Afghanistan. This is fast enough, and the cookies are always fresh when they arrive at their destination, which is helped along with the inclusion of fresh apple slices in each package.

Participating in the program became particularly rewarding for Fornwalt this month when she shipped cookies to a Port Orchard resident for the first time.

“I really love doing this,” she said. “It makes me feel good to be able to support the troops.”

For more information or to join the program go to www.bakinggals.com.

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