NEW YORK (NNS) -- More than 55 Girl Scouts and troop leaders from the Heart of Hudson Council arrived on the Wasp-class multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) with boxes of cookies for Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen as part of Operation Cookie Drop during Fleet Week New York, May 28.
Alison Bergman, a native of White Plains, New York, is the Girl Scout Troop Leader who started Operation Cookie Drop in 2002 as a direct response to 9/11. Bergman had a desire to find a way to show support for the troops and service members who risk their lives on a daily basis to secure her freedom. The program has grown from 100 boxes donated in that first year to 101,000 boxes scheduled to be donated this year. Bergman said she hopes the cookies given to service members provide a little reminder of home while they are away.
"We look at it as getting a taste of home into the hands of as many men and women in the services as possible," said Bergman.
After delivering the cookies, the Girl Scouts and troop leaders had the opportunity to ask 18 female service members representing the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard questions about military careers, and what it is like for women in the services in the Bataan wardroom. Lunch was served following the forum and the day ended with a guided tour of the ship.
"This is very exciting," said Erin McMahon, a native of Shrub Oak, New York, and troop leader with the Girl Scouts of America. "It was wonderful and very empowering for the girls to see all these women who are in the military. It helps them visualize what it could be for them."
Margaret Scandurra, a native of Yorktown Heights, New York, and also troop leader with the Girl Scouts of America, shared that she was glad she was a part of this event aboard Bataan.
I've done cookie drops before, but never saw it through to the end and am glad I got to meet so many service members during Fleet Week, said Scandurra.
"Definitely seeing the wide amount of jobs that are on the ship was the best part of this day for me," said Julia Paul, a member of Girl Scout Troop 1418. "I am also glad I got to personally thank all these Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who help keep me and my family safe. It's just not the same mailing the cookies out as it is to drop them off ourselves."
"We had a wonderful time with the NYC area Girl Scouts today," said Cmdr. Michele E. Sprosty, senior medical officer aboard Bataan and native of Bettendorf, Iowa. "It was an amazing opportunity to reach out to the future female leaders of our country and potentially encourage them to serve their nation in the military."
FWNY, now in its 28th year, is the city's time-honored celebration of the sea services. It is an unparalleled opportunity for the citizens of New York and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as witness firsthand the latest capabilities of today's maritime services. The weeklong celebration has been held nearly every year since 1984.
For up-to-date information on all FWNY events, visit the official FWNY website at http://www.fleetweeknewyork.com/, "Like" FleetWeekNewYork on Facebook, or "Follow" @FleetWeekNYC on Twitter. FWNY photos can be viewed on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/fwnypao/ and Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/fleetweeknyc/. Join the conversation on social media by using #FleetWeekNYC.
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