School Closings And Delays

Volunteers Sending A Touch Of Home To Troops Overseas For The Holidays

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OLD FORGE  -- Volunteers were as busy as Christmas elves, stuffing not stockings but bag after bag with holiday cookies at the Eagle McClure Hose Company in Old Forge.

The donated cookies will be sent to area men and women stationed overseas in the military, hoping to give them a touch of home for the holidays.

“I feel bad for the guys that can`t be with their families and this is a piece of home,” said Debby Walsh.

This was started by Debby ten years ago, after her daughter Talia`s fiance, Sergeant Jan Argonish was killed while serving in Afghanistan in August of 2007.

“And his unit was still overseas until Christmas and so we sent Christmas trees and cookies and the community embraced it so we continue to do it. So we send Christmas cookies at Christmas time,” said Debby.

“It`s obviously near and dear to me because of that but to be able to know that the families really affected by them during the holidays, just as much as it affects them not being home during the holidays, so I think us being able to send something,” said Talia Walsh.

While this called “Operation Cookie”, the volunteers are sending so much more than that.

They are also asking for donations of necessities.

“Toiletries, baby wipes are great, and snacks, like tuna cans, tuna packets,” said Talia. “Books, if you have left over books in your library that you`re not reading.”

And of course it wouldn`t be Christmas without Christmas cards.

Dozens of Christmas cards are being shipped as well, all made by area elementary students. filled with heartfelt greetings.

And while these volunteers aren`t asking for any gratitude in return, they get plenty of "thank you’s" from overseas.

“My most memorable, I was hiking and I got a phone call and it was a kid in Afghanistan and it stopped me in my tracks, to tell me thank you, for the cookies, it made my Christmas,” said Debby.

Walsh says they are not only collecting more donations, they are collecting names and addresses of local service members stationed overseas.

To contact Debby Walsh go to their Operation Cookie Facebook page: