Herald JournalHerald Journal, March 24, 2003

Sending their love in the form of cookies to locals in the service

By Ryan Gueningsman

"One mother was crying at the thought of touching something her son that is overseas would receive," said Kathy Condon of Winsted.

Condon is the woman behind two local Girl Scout troops' efforts of sending cookies and care packages to all known people from Winsted who are currently active in any branch of the service. The packages were mailed Saturday with many parents and other family members on-hand.

The idea was conceived after Condon read an old People magazine article about actor Bruce Willis' daughter being in the Girl Scouts, and sending 3,000 boxes of cookies to people in the service.

"That's really how it started," Condon said. "We figured at most it would be five or six people ­ now it is almost 30. It got so big. We had no idea we would come up with this many people."

As her list of people in the service kept growing, Condon decided to ask the local Cub Scout Pack 399 if it would share the cost of mailing. The Cub Scouts are also drawing pictures to be included in the packages.

"They agreed to help, and so many people have heard about it and started donating," Condon said.

Since there is no official list, a lot of the name gathering has been done by word-of-mouth.

"I would be talking to one parent, and she would tell me about another person, and it just kept growing," she said.

As of Saturday, the list was up to 28 names of people from Winsted who are active in the service ­ including National Guard, Army, Navy, Air Force, and those who are in training.

"It's just a real nice gesture on the part of the Girl Scouts to recognize those people who are serving our country in so many different capacities," commented Karen Dawes of Winsted, whose son Keith is currently at West Point Preparatory School in New Jersey. If all goes according to plan, Keith will begin West Point in July, following in the footsteps of Matt Bebo, also of Winsted, who is currently in his first year at West Point.

Although about only one-third of Winsted residents in the service are overseas, there is potential that more may be called over.

"A lot of these people are already right there in it," Condon said, "and many more have been told that if their unit gets called up ­ they're gone."

Being "gone" is just what Steve and Connie Kozitza's son Joe is looking forward to.

"Joe signed up for the Navy between his junior and senior year of high school," Connie said. "He wants a career in the Navy.

"He can't wait to go ­ he wants to make a difference."

People in the service

The following are people from Winsted currently active in the service. For their addresses, contact Condon at (320) 485-2860.

Will Pace, Andy Roufs, Terry Berg, Sean Drew, Jeremy Smith, Pat Painschab, Jill Adrian, Ryan Norman, Jeff Norman, Joseph Kozitza, Eric Stifter, Stephanie Molihan, Jason Fiecke, Charles Remer, Matt Bebo, Keith Dawes, Dennis Young, Ryan Mochinski, Jacob Mochinski, Jennifer Sherman, Brian Lachermeier, Anthony Fiecke, Paul Jaskowiak, Tammy Kruschke, Josh Koch, and Steve Zachmann.

There are also two couples in the service in which one partner was from Winsted.

Cathy (Kieser) Bartholomew is in the Air Force and her husband David is in the National Guard.

Maureen (Genty) Sevilla is in the National Guard and her husband Greg is in the Army.

"This is the list we've compiled so far ­ but I'm sure we've missed some people," Condon said. "I apologize to anyone that we may have missed."

Condon doesn't want this project to end now that the packages are in the mail.

With the war in full force, she wants to keep the ties to people's hometowns strong. She and the Girl Scouts are planning on sending more care packages in the future.

To make any additions to the list, or to donate money to help cover postage, contact Condon.

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