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'Operation Cookie' Sends Holiday Treats to Afghanistan Troops

By Serena Solomon | November 29, 2011 7:29am | Updated on November 29, 2011 7:42am
Barbara Sibley and her two children, Alex, 7, and Arielle, 3, press the dough into shapes.
Barbara Sibley and her two children, Alex, 7, and Arielle, 3, press the dough into shapes.
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DNAinfo/Serena Solomon

EAST VILLAGE — 6,500 miles is a long way to go for a cookie.

But that's how far hundreds of baked treats will be traveling as they make their way from New York City to Afghanistan and into the hands of homesick troops. The project, dubbed “Operation Cookie,” marks the second time members of the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance have banded together to send tasty treats to a war zone. 

“Whether you are for or against the war, for the soldiers who are stuck there, it is horrible. So why not do ‘Operation Cookie’ again?” said recipe developer and food blogger Dana Jacobi, who is urging people to bring their home-baked or store-bought goods to La Palapa Mexican restaurant on St. Mark’s Place between First and Second avenues from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday. Cookies will also be accepted Thursday and Friday.

On Mon., Nov. 28, Barbara Sibley and her two children made 48 cookies to be sent to Afghanistan.
On Mon., Nov. 28, Barbara Sibley and her two children made 48 cookies to be sent to Afghanistan.
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DNAinfo/Serena Solomon

“Operation Cookie” is requesting donations of at least two dozen cookies, accompanied by a $5 gift to assist with shipping costs. The cookies will board a military cargo plane next week bound for Afghanistan, but could take up to three weeks to reach the troops — so organizers are asking donors to organize the cookies into four layers of six cookies with wax paper between each layer and wrapped in heavy duty foil.

Organizers recommended chocolate chip cookies, which the soldiers say are their favorite, but added that oatmeal, gingerbread and peanut butter cookies are also popular.

"Operation Cookie" began in 2003 when Jacobi's friend’s son was stationed in Afghanistan and Jacobi helped ship 1,000 cookies to feed the soldier’s entire battalion of 300 people.

In return, one of the soldiers wrote to the group about life in Afghanistan and even sent photos.

“What he shared back was an eye-opening education with the immediacy of his firsthand experience,” said Jacobi. ”It was fascinating because we knew so much less back then.”

Chef Barbara Sibley, who owns La Palapa and is part of the New York Women's Culinary Alliance, said she volunteered to be one of the drop off sites because she has a personal connection to the war.

Her brother recently returned from Iraq, where he worked with the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer.

“He has seen things he can’t even speak about,” said Sibley, 48, who lives in the East Village with her children Alex, 7, and Arielle, 3. “It makes it more real when you have a family member over there.”

Prior to her brother's departures from Iraq, his mess tent was closed for two weeks, leaving him with only high-calorie snack bars as food, Sibley said. A homemade cookie would have been a welcome delight.

“So care packages have been on my mind,” she added.

“It is just how people are feeling. [They are] needing to make a difference,” said Sibley, as she stamped out gingerbread cookies with her children Monday. “For me, it is the small things that make a difference.”

“Like a batch of cookies,” added her son Alex, as he pressed the dough into different shapes.

Between her and her two children, Sibley said she is aiming to add eight dozen cookies to the shipment overseas.

By Monday night they already had 48 ready to go.

“I know holiday baking gets out of control," she said, "so let's just put it to good use."

Participants can drop off their cookies Wed - Fri at La Palapa, 77 St. Mark's Pl.