America Supports You: 'Cookie Lady' Gives Troops Taste of Home
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 28, 2005 The aroma of fresh-baked cookies filling the entryway of the small apartment brings a reminiscent feeling of home for many visitors. It does not, however, give an idea of the magnitude of the efforts of the one-woman cookie factory within these walls.
Germaine Broussard, "The Cookie Lady," takes a sheet of cookies out of her oven in her McLean, Va., home. Broussard has been baking cookies for troops overseas for a year and a half. Photo by Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Germaine Broussard, also known as "The Cookie Lady," has been baking cookies for troops serving overseas for a year and a half. She has baked thousands of cookies and sent them to soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines -- most of whom she has never met.
Broussard started her baking ventures around Christmas 2003, when she decided she wanted to support the troops, but wanted her contribution to be more personal than just sending money, she said.
"I bake cookies. That's what I do," she said.
Broussard started small, sending cookies and care packages to a few individual servicemembers. She eventually branched out and adopted two different Navy ships and an entire battalion of Marines. Broussard was sending about 1,500 to 2,000 cookies at a time to each ship, she said, and the Marines received more than 7,000 cookies within six weeks.
Broussard is sponsoring two small Navy ships, three individuals and the Jungle Warfare Training Center in Okinawa, Japan. She just started sending packages to JWTC after partnering with SemperComm, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing communications and morale-boosting equipment to remote military bases.
SemperComm's Monica Suber said the organization first heard about Broussard's efforts two months ago and knew she was someone they wanted to partner with.
"Once we heard about her, it was just an instantaneous thing," she said. "We had to talk to her."
The partnership helps Broussard gain access to troops who need support, she said, because before she relied on word of mouth among people in the field.
All the cookies Broussard sends are baked in her small apartment kitchen in McLean, Va.
"Most people think I've got this huge industrial oven or industrial mixer," she said. "It's all done with a hand mixer."
Broussard bakes almost every night, after working what can sometimes be long hours as a business development associate for Smith Barney. She also serves as the treasurer of the McLean Citizen's Association and does graphic design for two magazines. With such a busy schedule, she said, it's easy to get tired and not want to bake, but then she remembers who she's baking for.
"The whole point is, if I come home and I don't want to bake, I kind of think, 'Do they really want to be there?'" she said. "And it changes my whole attitude."
Cookies aren't the only things Broussard uses to brighten troops' days. She also sends packages filled with various treats and necessities, from coffee to jump ropes to clean socks. People don't realize how much of a need servicemembers have for the little things that others take for granted, she said.
"The challenge I make to everybody is: Start from the time you get up in the morning to the time you go to bed and think about everything you touch - from a hairbrush to a toothbrush to toothpaste to saline solution to anything," she said. "If you can put your hands on it, they can't."
Broussard's father served in the Army during the Korean War and her four uncles were in the Marine Corps. Her nephew is in the Army and is set to deploy to Iraq this fall, she said, and he and his platoon will definitely be receiving a lot of cookies, baked with extra love.
After many months and many more cookies, Broussard shows no signs of slackening her efforts. She didn't let knee surgery or a broken arm stop her from baking in the past, and she plans to continue until all the troops come home, she said. The only thing she has gotten burned out on is an appetite for the sweet treats she gives so many others the opportunity to enjoy.
"I don't eat my own cookies," she said. "After you see 2,000 of them on your kitchen table, you lose a taste for them."