Archive for Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Cookies from the heart of Basehor

Basehor

May 24, 2006

As of Monday, Captain Jay Scrivener had not received his first "Treats for the Troops" package. But, the 38-year-old Scrivener, who is stationed with the Army National Guard in Baghdad, knows the package is on its way.

And he told his wife, Gina Scrivener, he plans to share the cookies and other treats with his unit.

Gina, who lives east of Basehor with their 9-month-old son, Gunnar, knows there's nothing like home-baked goodies. Her husband has been in Iraq since November.

"That seems to be that the biggest thing that they were wanting is homemade items," Scrivener said. "There are a lot of things that you can get over there at the PX, but homemade cookies are what they miss."

So she's started a mission to send, on the first week of each month, cookies and other homemade treats, to Baghdad where her husband will distribute them to other military personnel.

Gina Scrivener said she started her project by writing a letter that was printed in the Basehor First Baptist Church's newsletter.

In her letter, Scrivener said if people would bake cookies, she would pick them up on the first Sunday of the month at church.

Then, at her home, she vacuum-seals bags of cookies and packs them in boxes to mail. And, Scrivener said, she will pay the postage.

This is still a fledgling program, with the first box shipped to an APO New York address earlier this month.

It's a project Scrivener hopes will take flight.

She noted the first month's shipment included more than cookies. Included among the goodies were beef jerky, chewing gum and bags of microwavable popcorn.

Military natural

Gina, who married Jay on Sept. 30, 2000, is accustomed to his being away from home.

"We have been apart almost as much as we have been together," Gina said.

This is Jay's third tour of duty overseas. Before going to Iraq in November, his most recent deployment was to Bosnia in 2003. He also served during the first Gulf War.

In Baghdad, Jay is in an infantry unit working on a security mission. And when he's not on active duty, he works as a defense contractor at Fort Leavenworth.

Jay's military service has included more than the army. Prior to serving in the Army National Guard, he spent 14 years in the Marine Reserve.

Gina said Jay's father was in the Navy.

"There's military blood in him," she said.

Country life

Gina, who grew up on a farm near Excelsior Springs, Mo., works for a pharmaceutical research firm in Lenexa.

In July 2003, while Jay was in Bosnia, Gina bought the Basehor home. When her husband returned a few months later, he was delighted with the rural location, she said.

"I grew up on a small 40-acre farm," Gina said. "So living in Kansas City next door to people wasn't what I wanted. I wanted to be able to have some open space and raise our son in more of a rural area."

Gina's stepson, 13-year-old Austin Scrivener, lives part of the time with her and her husband.

And last summer the couple added another son to their family. Gunnar was born Aug. 18.

Just five days later, Jay left for training and in November was sent to Iraq. In March, he was able to see his family again when he returned home for a two-week visit.

Growing community involvement

While Gina has gotten her church involved in the project, other area residents are helping, as well.

Betty Scheller, who lives across the road from Gina, heard about the project, and is helping.

"I thought, 'Now that's something I'd like to do' and I asked her if I could help," Scheller said.

Since then, Scheller has baked several batches of cookies and brownies for the project.

And, Scheller writes a note to include with each pack of cookies. Last week her notes read, "We are so pleased what you are doing for our country. You are in our prayers every day!"

Fred Box, commander of Basehor's VFW Post 11499, said the chapter has adopted Scrivener.

"We just keep in touch with him through e-mail and we paid for his first year of membership to the VFW," Box said.

Box said the VFW members have told Jay that if he needs assistance with anything they'll do whatever it takes to help.

For Gina, whose parents and in-laws don't live nearby, it's comforting to hear this type of comment. The VFW, as well as members of the church she attends, and friends and neighbors such as Scheller, have reached out to help.

"I can't stress how much support Gunnar and I have received from our church," Gina said. "They have been lifesavers. ... The church has been extremely helpful while Jay's been gone -- they've been my second family."

Something from home

Gina said she's eager for her husband to receive the box of treats she shipped earlier this month.

She had sent cookies earlier in the year, but after a month in shipping, they were dried out. Since then, she's bought a vacuum sealer, which should keep the baked goods fresh.

Gina said she knows the effort, as well as the cookies, will be welcomed by troops.

"For it to be homemade," Gina said, "they crave that kind of stuff and a piece of home."

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