WILKES-BARRE -- With the power of social media, what started as a warm-hearted way to spread some Christmas spirit to military personnel in Afghanistan turned into something much larger. On Sunday, volunteers, friends and family members gathered at Wilkes University to prepare over 500 packages of cookies and other treats to send to Afghanistan at the first Let's Make Their Christmas a Sweet One event.
Kim Bailey Wood, event organizer, said she originally sent some homemade goodies and personal care items to a friend's son, Marine Cpl. Frank Jones, who was deployed into a combat zone a few months ago. After receiving two packages, Jones sent a message via Facebook asking her to send packages to three Marines under his watch who were not expecting any packages at all from home instead of sending them to him.
When she got that message she was emotionally moved.
It broke my heart that there were guys over there getting nothing for the holiday, Wood said.
The day before Veterans Day she decided to reach out to her friends on Facebook to see if she could get some help making cookie packages.
I knew I had generous friends who would be willing, she said and she was correct. Now, more than 200 military personnel will be receiving packages of Christmas cookies, she added.
Wood Turner from the United States Navy, who is stationed at the same base in Afghanistan and is also a friend of Wood's, will help Marine Cpl. Jones distribute the packages when they arrive, she said.
With the help of her husband Mike, who works as the vice president of advancement at Wilkes University, Kim Wood was able to use the university student hall for the collection.
Mike Wood pointed out the university always strives to be military friendly and seeks to reach out to help military personnel who seek to further their education. In addition, he saw this project as a way for students to get more involved in the community.
By the end of the day, cookies were delivered to Wilkes from several states, including Florida, Virginia, Washington D.C., Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Wood said.
About 40 people volunteered to bake the cookies, donate to pay the shipping costs and put together the packages making them ready for shipment. Each package will include an assortment of homemade cookies, hot chocolate mix and candy canes, Wood said.
Patty Davis, one volunteer working to put packages together, said she was happy to help after seeing the posting on Facebook.
It's a great way to give back, Davis said.