Orchard Park Girl Scout sends cookies to Afghanistan hospitals
Yet the Ellicott Elementary second-grader has compassion for something few children her age are even cognizant of: people serving in the military, specifically in Afghanistan.
“She’s an old soul,” said her mother, Nancy Reimann, laughing. “Everybody says it.”
This fall, Meghan sold nearly 300 boxes of Girl Scout cookies with the idea of donating them to people serving in hospitals in Afghanistan.
On a recent Wednesday, she, along with other girls in her Girl Scout Brownie Troop 909, boxed all the cookies at the post office in Orchard Park. They included handwritten cards before shipping them to Afghanistan.
“One night — must have been after a Brownie troop meeting — she was laying in bed, and she said, ‘Mommy, do I know anyone in the military? Do I know anyone in the war right now?’ And I said, ‘Yes, our neighbor, Dr. Bone.’”
Reimann adds, “I could see her little face light up.”
Dr. Lawrence Bone chairs the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University at Buffalo Medical School and practices at Erie County Medical Center. Also a lieutenant colonel in the Reserve Medical Corps, the Orchard Park man served 10 weeks as a surgeon in an Afghanistan hospital, from August through mid-October. After his tour, he returned to his Eagle Heights home, where he lives just three doors down from the Reimann family.
Meghan told her mother that evening, “Mom, all these soldiers are really hurt, and he’s making them feel better. We’re going to get cookies to all these soldiers so they can feel better!”
Reimann, surprised by her daughter’s passion, told her she’d need a lot of boxes, but the girl didn’t shirk from the challenge. Instead, she met it with gusto. She saw a need and wanted to fill it in the one way she knew she could: through selling cookies.
“I thought I would bring them cookies so they would feel bett er,” Meghan told a reporter. “I think it would be really good for them to have a little treat.”
Every day after school, Meghan hopped on her bicycle and went pedaling door to door throughout her Eagle Heights neighborhood while her parents waited, watching in the car. But, after the second day, she felt frustrated by the lower-than-expected sales.
The second-grader felt she couldn’t explain the story well enough and, as a result, wasn’t getting the kind of response she hoped for. So that night, with her mom’s help, she wrote it all out. Afterward, she handed people the letter explaining the need.
Sales spiked, with Rep. George Maziarz even donating 30 boxes to the girl’s cause.
Reimann recalls Bone telling her about just how hard the medical staff works in Afghanistan.
“The doctors, nurses and staff in these hospitals work around the clock,” she said. “They hardly get any time off, so just to have a cookie that represents the United States is huge to them. It’s more than just having a cookie. It’s having a piece of home again.”
Meghan’s Brownie troop, based in Ellicott Elementary, met at the Orchard Park post office to box all the cookies, and Bone came, too.
The girls and their parents worked together, sorting the cookies and putting a mixture into each shipment.
They filled out customs forms, too, necessary for the boxes that would travel across the globe. Postal clerk College Agen, who helped the troop, knew just how meaningful the project is.
“I was a soldier for 10 years,” said Agen, “and when we got packages it was the most awesome thing. It’s really awesome to introduce the kids at such a young age to how important it is to support our military.”
Bones gave Nancy Reimann the addresses of three forward surgical teams — groups of physicians, nurses and medics that take care of wounded soldiers — serving in different Eastern Afghanistan hospitals. The Scouts put the names of these hospitals on their boxes.
“We’re always grateful that people are thinking of us and wanting to do their share of taking care of the soldiers,” said Bone, who will be returning to Afghanistan in March, “because it’s an indication somebody back home cares, and when you’re over there, it’s very rewarding to know someone back home cares.”
If the postal clerk’s prediction proves correct, Meghan’s cookies should arrive in Afghanistan any day now, maybe even today.