Soldier's Angels donates 25,000 boxes of cookies - Milwaukee VA Medical Center
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Milwaukee VA Medical Center


Soldier's Angels donates 25,000 boxes of cookies

Torrie Hutchison poses with the cookies

Torrie Hutchison, Voluntary Services specialist, takes a selfie with just a fraction of the 10 pallets of cookies that towered 7 feet high.

By Gary J. Kunich
Friday, May 8, 2020

It could be the Cookie Monster’s dream come true, if he were a Veteran or employee of the Milwaukee VA Medical Center.

You got your shortbread, you got your Samoas …

This is a story about cookies – lots and lots and lots of cookies. We’re talking 300,000 boxes of cookies. I mean, that’s a lot of cookies. By our count, that’s about 3.6 million cookies, give or take.

You got your Thin Mints and your Peanut Butter Patties …

And if our math is wrong, well, we were told this job would not involve math.

You got your Lemonade, your peanut butter sandwiches and even a gluten-free cookie called Toffee-Tastic …

All told, the Milwaukee VA received 25,000 cases of Girl Scout Cookies, courtesy of Soldiers' Angels and the Girl Scouts of America, and is giving them out to everybody -- Veterans and employees alike. And for those checking our math at home, that's 12 boxes of cookies per case.

“They reached out to us and said, ‘Hey, we have Girl Scout cookies, and we were expecting about a thousand boxes,” said Torrie Hutchison, Voluntary Services specialist. “It was 10 pallets, and we were expecting standard-sized pallets. It ended up being double-stacked, and we couldn’t even get them through the doorway. We had to take off three layers just to get them through.

“The pallets were 7 feet high! I saw how tall they were and said, ‘Oh, my goodness, that’s a lot of cookies.’”

Soldiers' Angels is a national charity out of San Antonio, Texas, with a mission to provide aid, comfort and resources to the military, Veterans and their families. They have traditionally donated popcorn each year to the Milwaukee VA from the Boy Scouts of America.


Plate of cookies

The donation of 25,000 Girl Scout cookies is like a Cookie Monster fantasy come true.

“We donate a lot of goods to VA,” said president and CEO Amy Palmer. “Last year, we were looking at about $7 million throughout the nation.”

For Palmer, an Air Force Veteran herself, it has deeper meaning.

“We greatly appreciate being able to serve Veterans for the sacrifices they make,” she said. “We wanted this donation to go to everybody because we know the staff is working a lot of long hours and just might need a quick snack.

“I do go to VA (for care),” she added. “A lot of our staff members are Veterans or spouses of Veterans who use VA. We refer lots of people to VA. There is nothing like that anywhere that specializes in what they’ve gone through. We love working with VAs and serving that population.”

Hutchison said it took some quick thinking with Logistics and Facility Management on where to store the donation. They’ve so far given away more than 3,000 boxes of the cookies in the last two weeks.

“We’ve reached out to Recreation Therapy, to (Spinal Cord Injury), the domicilary and Community Living Centers, and having employees pick them up for their division. Normally when we do that, there is a slow period, but it has been a steady stream, and we’re getting e-mails from everyone,” Hutchison said.

Tandria Williams, the division manager for outpatient nursing, has been busy making sure her staff of 250 get some, too.

“You know, for me, Girl Scout cookies always bring a smile to my face,” she said. “Our employees are so appreciative of this donation, and thankful for Voluntary Services and Soldiers' Angels. We have a fair number of our nurses working in the (coronavirus) areas and all over.

Her favorites are the Lemonade cookies, she said.

“Sometimes in this job, you can feel you are doing this work on your own, or you feel isolated. This is just so heartwarming.”


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