MOULTRIE -- Some 190 local Girl Scouts are boxing up their famous baked fare and sending a little bit of home to local soldiers deployed to the Middle East.

But that's not all. Along with the cookies, scouts also are throwing in a few essentials to ease life on the desert sand. This is where community support comes in.

"I wanted the girls to get a sense of what these men and women actually are doing for them and what they have given up to protect our freedom. The girls hear from adults about war, but they really don't know what these men and women have given up," Hamilton Girl Scout Troop 440 Leader Stacy Cook said.

Girl Scout law teaches scouts to be "friendly and helpful, considerate and caring." What better way to help than to show they care through these packages, Cook said.

The scouts were surprised to learn, she said as an example, that the soldiers are without toilet paper due to a shipment delay.

The First Presbyterian Church of Moultrie is donating the use of its social hall to meet and wrap packages March 22. Moultrie Postmaster Bobby Johnson will pick up the packages from the girls that day to be mailed. The packages take about three weeks to reach the servicemen.

Cook has compiled about 30 names of local soldiers already deployed to ready for the looming war with Iraq. But she only has about 18 addresses and is asking the families of the soldiers to contact her.

The local Girl Scout troops also are tucking in letters to the soldiers. One 5-year-old scout wrote: "Hello, I'm a Daisy Girl Scout. It is so much fun. My papa is a retired Army. He really liked being in the Army and was in Saudi Arabia. We live on a farm in Georgia. I love to go fishing. The boat ride is so much fun. Take care. Love, Payton."

Cook, whose brother is in Kuwait, is snapping photographs of yellow ribbons displayed around the community for moral support in what are frustrating times for the soldiers, she said.

Already, the Girl Scouts have garnered support from the scouts' families and the community for this continuing project, but more items are needed to round out the care packages.

Suggested items that the Girl Scouts would like to send the soldiers include crossword puzzles, decks of cards, disposable razors, shaving cream, shaving lotion, deodorant (non-aerosol), anti-bacterial hand sanitizer, shampoo, wash cloths, moist towelettes, dental floss, mouthwash, Jell-o pudding snacks, ready-to-eat soup in pop top cans, box drinks, sunscreen, lip balm and nail clippers. Cards and letters are always greatly appreciated, Cook said.

Items not to send include highly perishable foods (no refrigeration is available), no aerosols or liquids in glass containers, no fireworks and no beef jerky (it could conflict with religious beliefs overseas).

Hartsfield Post Office donated stationery; Quality Employment Services gave pens and magazines; the offices of Dr. Howington, Dr. Redding and Dr. Cranford donated toothbrushes and toothpaste; Rebecca Whitaker donated packing peanuts; FoodMax gave five packs of Jell-o pudding snacks and 10 cans of ready-to-eat soup in pop top cans; Shirley Stowers and Cassie Hughes of Avon have donated hand lotion; Winn-Dixie donated a $20 gift certificate; Alice Hall donated $25 cash; Sally's Beauty Supply gave combs; the Hampton Inn and The Inn At Moultrie donated soaps; Variety Canteen and Circle N Petro donated snacks; and Books 'N More put in books. Plus, scout families threw more items into the care packages.

Some of the scouts are having a booth sale at Harvey's Grocery Store from 9 a.m. to noon this Saturday. Cook will accept donated items then or those interested can contact her at gsswga440@yahoo.com, P.O. Box 2542, Moultrie, GA 31776-2542 or leave a message at 891-4717.

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