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Marine thanks Girl Scouts in person for service

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Girl Scouts from troop 41283 pose for a photo with Gunnery Sargeant Matthew Thompson of the U.S. Marine Corps. Some 13-year-old Forest Grove girls asked Sgt. Matthew Thompson how he earned all his badges — and he asked them the same.

Last Wednesday night, Feb. 24, Thompson made a surprise visit to Girl Scout Troop 41283 as members sold their famous cookies outside the Forest Grove Safeway to thank them for sending sweet treats to military members overseas.

The troop was the first Forest Grove squad to start sending cookies to various military branches several years ago at the suggestion of one girl who had a cousin overseas. As a result, the girls have cultivated relationships with several servicemen and women.

Thompson, a U.S. Marines recruiter, was in Forest Grove for the day and thought he’d take the time to stop by. He’s been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan five times. Thompson said he always appreciated the cookies he received from Girl Scouts across the country during deployment. “It’s very nice to receive stuff from back home,

that’s for sure,” Thompson said. “It feels good to get the cookies when you’re

away — they’re always good.”

Customers can buy a box of cookies that stay with the troop so they can send them off to military members. The Forest Grove chapter of the American Legion donated money to the Girl Scouts to pay for the shipping charges.

Thompson stayed for about an hour, said one of the troop’s leaders, Maria Betancourt, and helped convince passersby to buy cookies for the troops. In a typical night, the girls secure about eight boxes for the military. Last Wednesday, they got 25 boxes. NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Amiyah Aleman, Sydney Molin and Emily Robles of Girl Scout troop 41283 look through various thank-you gifts theyve received over the years from military men and women. The troop has managed to donate about 24 cases of cookies to deployed troops per year.

The girls send the boxes to both larger military units to divide among themselves, as well as to specific individuals such as Lane Gravely, a 2013 Forest Grove High School graduate who prefers the Girl Scouts’ Thin Mints cookies. He’s currently stationed in Japan with the U.S. Navy.

Members of troop 41283 have been writing Gravely and sending him cookies for a couple years. Gravely appreciated the cookies so much, he sent the girls a special sash patch to thank them for their correspondence. While on leave in fall 2015, Gravely surprised them by stopping by their regularly scheduled meeting.

The troop members asked him about cookie preferences, sea sicknesses, Japanese food, ship bed size and more.

These first-hand interactions with those they’re donating to “makes them feel great,” Betancourt said. “The girls all told me these visits were so awesome.”