Lt. Col. Ted Anders, stationed in Qatar since January, is used to getting care packages from home containing everything from the sports page to vitamins.
Anders soon will get something tastier in the mail: Girl Scout cookies, compliments of Junior Girl Scout Troop 1105 and his Town 'N Country neighbors.
"We knew Donna's husband was shipping out," said neighbor Lynette Peel. "She has two small children, and we knew we had to watch out for her."
That simple declaration evolved into an effort that included some of the Anders' neighbors, a nearby Pak Mail store and about 45 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.
One neighbor suggested they send something special to Anders and his unit in Qatar. Another, much younger, said, why not send all those Girl Scout cookies left over from the recent cookie sale? Another said, let's see if we can get the Girl Scouts to donate the cookies.
A nearby Pak Mail store kicked in the $60 in postage.
"Since our troops are over there fighting for us, putting their lives on the line, it was the least we can do in a small way," said Todd Doherty, co-owner of Pak Mail Centers of America on W Hillsborough Avenue. "It's not much, but at least they can feel like they're at home."
The collaborative effort came together Monday as Donna Anders and her neighbors gathered at the Pak Mail store and boxed up three cases of Girl Scout cookies.
One case was destined for Qatar and two others for Kuwait, where Anders' nephew is stationed along "with a lot of young troops," Donna Anders said.
Included in the parcel to Anders was a letter from 10-year-old Maureen McAuliffe, the Girl Scout who came up with the idea of sending the cookies.
"We wanted to send you some cookies to remind you of your homes in America," she wrote. "You are in our hearts and we pray for your safe return to America."
_ Jackie Ripley can be reached at (813) 269-5308 or ripleysptimes.com.