ALPHARETTA, Ga. —Oreos are something most Americans take for granted, but the small cookie is one thing a lot of U.S. soldiers dream about overseas.
A local pastor was on a plane and sitting next to a solider, so he decided to be a friendly seat neighbor and start a conversation. When Rev. Don Martin, senior pastor at Alpharetta First United Methodist Church, asked the soldier what he missed most, his response surprised him.
“At the end of the conversation I asked him, ‘while you were oversees what did you miss most?’” said Martin. “And he said, just like that, ‘Oreos, double stuffed.’”
Once Martin returned home, he decided to make it his mission to collect Oreos to send overseas. Since the encounter in 2009, the church has collected the cookies every year, and along with his congregation, Martin hopes to continue the tradition.
“We’ve been doing it ever since and we’ll keep doing in until there’s no soldiers overseas,” said Martin.
AFUMC welcomes donations not only from members of their church, but anyone who wants to donate. They collect up until the Sunday prior to July 4, when they have a patriotic celebration.
“We pull out all the stops and recognize all the people in the congregation who have served in the military,” said Martin. “We play their armed forces song and have them stand. This year we gave them a small pack of six Oreos to thank them for their service.”
Martin sent flyers to the community to collect more Oreos.
A veteran, Patrick Cash, partner at Bluestor Networks, saw a flyer and wanted to help.
“As a business owner in the local community, when this opportunity came up it leapt out at us to take part and give back,” said Cash. “After being overseas and knowing what it’s like to miss home, having an opportunity to get a little taste of home was always nice because you knew somebody back in the states was thinking about you and they cared.”
Cash and his company donated 1,500 packs of Oreos, half of AFUMC’s 3,000 goal, which they exceeded to 6,100 packages.
The packages contain a sentimental piece of home as well to let the troops know they are missed.
“We generally put notes and colored pictures from the kids,” said Martin. “Sometimes it’s just a picture from a kid that says ‘we love you.’”