By Shaun Boyd
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– Some 200 soldiers from Buckley Air Force Base, who are stationed overseas for the holidays, will receive a special treat from home.
A non-profit called Baking for the Troops is sending them care packages that include homemade brownies and personal notes.
“And the secret, which is probably no longer going to be a secret now, is to pack them while they’re warm because when they’re warm it creates some kind of moisture seal within the Tupperware package and it keeps them fresh for the duration of the trip,” says Melissa Kuipers, who founded the non-profit six years ago.
She grew up in a military family and also grew up baking.
“My dad was in the Marine Corp., my brother and sister-in-law were both in the Navy, I’ve had friends who were deployed over countless periods of time and I would do just kind of hey let’s get together and send them care packages. In 2009, it occurred to me it was probably time to make this a full time non-profit because my passion was so much with this organization and this kind of effort.”
She started in a home kitchen. This year, the effort is so big it’s moved to Epicurean Catering in Centennial.
Kuipers says,,”For us its feeling like we’ve sent a piece of home to them and when they’re deployed and they’re doing everything they can to keep us safe and protect other countries in some cases and do what they can to fight crime and terror on our behalf, it’s our way of saying thank you for what you do and we’re going to send a piece of home to you.”
The organization has sent 2,000 care packages over the last six years. This year’s shipment of Christmas brownies will be their biggest shipment yet.
“For us to be able to send warm brownies – at least THEY leave HERE warm – to them with notecards that say we’re thinking about you and we support you and we’re so thankful for what you’re doing and we want you to come home safely and soon – that’s why we do this.”
Among those who volunteered to help this year is Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. Her husband, Congressman Mike Coffman, is a Marine veteran.
“The troops are dear to my heart and as we get further away from 9/11 and the reason we sent folks overseas to fight for us, I want to make sure we don’t forget the people who are there. There’s tour after tour of folks who are away from their families. And to be away at the holidays and miss out on things like fresh baked cookies and notes from home, it’s especially hard and so I wanted to be a part of spending some time focusing on people who are out there protecting us,” said Coffman.
Colonel Joe Rice knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end. He received a care package in 2009 while in Bagdad.
“It puts a smile on your face and then other people catch a whiff of what you have and they get a smile on their faces. It reminds you of people at home and things at home,” said Rice.
Kuipers says that makes it all worth it, “The best part for us is getting a note or a photo from the folks that have received our care packages and they go on and on about how grateful they are to us, and for me its like you don’t have to thank us, this is such a small thing.”
Buckley will ship all the brownies and Kuipers says the U.S. Postal Service gives the packages special attention to make sure they arrive by Christmas.