February 3rd, 2011 - The Big Bowie Bake-Off!

The Making of a Cookie Cafe Event...in 3 Parts

by Carol Guest, Muffi Grinnell & Cathy Reed-Fink
Sponsor: Bowie High School NJROTC Cadets
& American Legion Post 66, Bowie, MD
Students: 429 - Cookies: 4518: Students Won by a Landslide!

(Part 1) With all the snow and ICE!!!! - Carol

We were so worried we would get any deliveries of cookies!!!  We had some left over in the freezer to use in case, but knew it would not be nearly enough.  Worried that the snow storm would prevent the UPS truck from making it to our house, I held my breath. No delivery on Monday or Tuesday. Readied with white knuckles...watchful out the window...finally at 3:45pm on Wednesday, 25 boxes showed up at my door with 4518 cookies from the Bowie High School NJROTC and the Bowie, Maryland American Legion. I almost kissed the UPS man.
Very early Thursday morning, in a swirl of snow with our van packed and bulging, we took off for Kings Point. Helpful students, the Rices, and the Academic Dean's wife, Beena Kumar, showed up to help us unpack all the boxes upon boxes upon boxes.  We were all commenting about the number of cookies, figuring the students might never be able to finish them...were we ever wrong...


They LOVED the COOKIES! Kept coming back for more, and spent lots of time sitting at the tables visiting with their friends.  Bowie, Maryland, you have topped the number of cookies baked and eaten on one Cookie Cafe day.  WE ALL SAY THANK YOU!
One female midshipman came by and saw the poster from the NJROTC cadets and American Legion vets and looked shocked.  "That's my high school ROTC group, I know them!"  
It was a very, very special day.  The outside was cold as could be with lots of snow coming down and yet the students kept coming and coming. They were welcomed with a warm hug, big smiles, and cozy atmosphere. On top of that, with beautiful and tasty cookies, something hot to drink, the midshipmen settled into a very special time near the end their demanding Kings Point week.  
Cookie Cafe is making a big, big difference to the students, just ask your sons/daughters/friends who go to Kings Point. You - KP parents, family and friends - who own Cookie Cafe, get 100% of the credit and are making a terrific difference.  Thanks, Carol   

(Part 2) The second half of today's story dates back to mid-September - Muffi/Cathy

...when Cathy Reed-Fink contacted me with a fabulous idea. She wanted to get the local NJROTC cadets together with the local American Legion and have the whole gang sponsor Cookie Cafe. What a perfect fit! The veterans generously offered to fund supplies and shipping. And, as the cookie coordinator, I helped Cathy with her planning. Here's how it all unfolds over the last few months in several emails from Cathy (her son, Kevin, was between ships and was able to pitch in on baking day too!):

Sept 15th - Muffi - Well I need to do some recruiting, but I'm thinking we can pull off a sponsorship month (Bowie High NJROTC & attached Legion Post), since 4 past Bowie NJROTC alumni are currently Midshipmen at KP.  I'm thinking the kids and their families can do the baking, I can pkg & wrap at my house, and get the Legion to spring for the postage.  How many dozen are required for a sponsorship ?  Where do they get sent - to Carol's or to the Academy?  What else needs to go? Paper products?  $$ for drinks ?  Let me know the details so I can see if I can make this work.

Sept 20th - The American Legion is all excited about taking a sponsor week for the Cafe! They are offering up their kitchen for a baking day with the NJROTC as well as to pay for the shipping, offer their big freezers for storage before we ship, and use their long tables for packaging. I am trying to catch up with the NJROTC Commander this week and when I have their committment I will let you know for sure & we can secure a date that you need us.

I sent the American Legion vets to the Cookie Cafe website to get a look at what it was all about, and I'm pretty sure that, and the YouTube video, is what got them all excited! The state of Maryland Legion Commander wants to help bake too! And of course if it works out, then we are all about making it an annual event.  In Maryland, the kids are required to earn 36 hours of community service while in high school. It seems like nothing to those kids who are Scouts as my guys were, but every year there are literally a handful of kids who do NOT graduate because they are short.  I'll be giving out one hour for every one dozen!

Oct 6th - Muffi:  we are good to go!  As per my last email the Legion is all over this, and several of the vets can't wait to get baking!  They are reserving their commercial kitchen and walk-in freezer for our purposes.  Additionally, I heard back from the NJROTC last nite and those cadets are ready to bake as well.  Now to set up a week - I'm looking at Feb 3rd ? Any other week in Jan or Feb works well, except the first one in Jan (not sure I'll be able to connect well with the NJROTC kids who will be on school break).  Give me your choices, in your order of preference.  Additionally, I can see from the Cookie Cafe website that the cookie demand is GREATER than ever.  Holy smokes.  So also, I will need to know how many dozens you need us to send.  p.s. gMA edna is excited to hang out at the Legion and be a part of that much at least.  We will get a great pix of her from that day.

Oct 27th - So our plan will be to bake on Saturday, Jan 23, freeze everything at the Legion's walk-in and then mail the following Thurs/Fri (there are Legion members who work at the post office who have volunteered to pick up, post and mail right from the Legion!). Can you send me the logo for the Cafe so I can use it for my sign-up sheets for the NJROTC and Legion folks?

Dec 1st - Muffi: Well our sign-up sheets are going out today, with a deadline of Jan 15. We'll be baking on Jan 23 and the Legion has posted a goal of 300 dozen (they've been looking at the Cookie Cafe website and see how many cookies have been eaten by the Midshipmen recently! ...No, they're not the least bit competitive!)  I ran into one of our Plebes over the Thanksgiving holiday at an Eagle Scout ceremony, who was blown away that our NJROTC and Legion are sponsoring a week.  (You mean the folks who send ALL the cookies?!!)  He was very excited and verified that it really is what he looks forward to all week long.  Please include gMA edna & my 20 dozen in that 300 dozen when you are figuring out what you have/need/etc., as we will both be in the middle of it, baking as usual.

Dec 30th - Hope you are enjoying your holidays... we've had company from Florida and Colorado, so the house has been jumping (Kevin, however, not home - next year!).
A couple of questions re: our FEB 3 Cookie Cafe sponsor day...
1) Those cards that I see on the trays of cookies in the pix, that say what kind and made by who (e.g. "The Smith Family" - oatmeal) ... do I fill them out at this end and send up with the boxes?  If so, do you have a template I can download if Carol likes them to all look the same?
2) Do I do the usual mailing system - to her house?  By the Monday/Tuesday before (Feb 1) or do they get sent to Kings Point since there are 15+ boxes coming?  If so, which day do they need to be there?
3) Are we supposed to include paper goods, etc?
4) I see pix of the folks who bake at the Cafe sometimes (in the pix on website) - do you want me to send the upload of the pix we take at the Legion when we bake & collect ?

Hi Cathy!!!

Thank you! Same to you and your family. I am sorry that Kevin is at sea for the holidays – I know that story all too well. I hope you made it through and are looking forward to NEXT year when he will be home to trim the tree ; )

1). I print and fold the tent cards that are used. For your event, I will put a special mention on the tent cards about where they are coming from to include the AL & NJROTC. Plus there will be a larger sign on the bar, stating that they are the sponsor. BUT – if you think the kids would enjoy filling out the tent cards themselves and including them, I can send the ready-made cards to you. It WOULD speed up the process for the parents unpacking the cookies on the 3rd. I could send you the template, of course, but I know you are really busy – they get printed on heavy card stock, then cut and folded. Just let me know.

2). Yes, send to Carol’s house. There is no one @ KP to handle the incoming boxes. I am pretty sure that I sent you a mailing label PDF for everyone to use, didn’t I?

3). Paper goods are not required, that’s what the donations cover, but they are always welcome!

4). YES!!!!!! I would LOVE LOVE LOVE pics of the baking day! Lots of them! Happy cadets and grown-ups alike!!! We have many pics of the actual Cafes, but very few of what goes into baking, boxing and “quality-control tasting” ; )  And that’s half the fun!

This is going to be SO cool! Please let me know if I can help at all. As soon as you get a list of names I will put them on the website schedule. I think the NJROTC kids would get a kick out of it. And, if you can get a big group shot of everyone on baking day, that would rock!

You are just a peach, my friend.


Jan 18th - I have a poster for the Legion door, a count-down-dozen poster and a message poster is also a great idea. My plan is to mail on the 26th for delivery no later than the 1st. gMA edna IS sending her famous gMA edna chocolate chips of course.  I have a random pix of her from this weekend which I will include just so she finally has a face at Cookie Cafe.

The cookie tent cards you sent look so awesome!!  I think I am ready - my living room is stacked with xerox boxes, posters, grocery bags for packing, etc etc etc.

I just got another great surprise at work ... found a wall full of emptied boxes with those big air bubbles in them!  That solves my packing issue, 'cause I'm just not sure I've collected enough plastic grocery bags.  It's the little victories, huh!

(Part 3) And after the big baking and packaging day at the American Legion...

Jan 24th - It was pretty darn successful ... we collected 376 dozen cookies and after breakage & snackers, packaged up about 370 dozen to send, 21 boxes total. The NJROTC collected all their cookies at a drop-off at the high school and then my contact from the unit brought them to the Legion (85 doz). I am sending via UPS on Thursday or Friday, depending on the weather thinking that the longer they stay in the Legion walk-In freezer, the longer they will stay frozen thru the 3rd (even sitting in the UPS truck all weekend they'll stay cold).

My Legion contact, Mark Ryan, and I are already bouncing around ideas of what to tweak to make it run even smoother if we were going to do it again - so I think that's a pretty good sign of how well it went. Kevin was there (leaving this evening to catch up with his ship in Texas) and said that there is always lots of choc chip, so no foul.  It was very fun to have him and his brother there helping in the afternoon - I did note that he is eating a cookie in pretty much every picture of him! (green T-shirt) The veterans were baking in the kitchen starting on Friday evening, and the place already smelled like cookies when I arrived at 7:45 a.m. Saturday.  What was really amazing - I have two new recruits to add to the "Cookie Angels" who have passed on their email and phone #s for cookies whenever needed.  I was also telling a neighbor about it and she wants to get added to the "Angel" list as well.  So I'll find out from them if they want to send cookies with me and gMA every month, or if they want another regular week or just for emergencies, and let you know. gMA did not come to the baking day (she had a "Red Hat"affair to attend!), but I did go to her house yesterday evening to get her to sign the poster we are sending.
My older son, Tom, had a good idea for the future - the trickiest thing was the plastic wrapping - takes the longest to do in the packing up process, and most of the folks who tried to do it, based off the directions, didn't quite get it and we had to re-do when they delivered their cookies.  Tom suggested a YouTube video of how-to.  He said he'd be willing to put it together and you can link off of your site for other groups to use if interested.
(GREAT idea, Tom, that would be a huge help!)
I haven't done a "big" event in about three years and I forgot how much fun it could be.  Now I'm really eager to get to Cookie Cafe at KP to help out one day for sure next fall when Kevin is back on campus.
Thnx for letting us play,

lv, Cathy.