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Column: Yellow Ribbon Cookie Walk evolves into Cookies for Vets

By the time you read this column, I will be entering the holiday cookie baking zone.

I plan to bake dozens of gingerbread men, women and children, holiday-shaped sugar cookies, along with tins of my grandmothers' finest holiday sweet treats.

This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the Cookie Walk where volunteers from the Farmington Yellow Ribbon Network package cookies to deliver to military families in Farmington, Rosemount and other communities such as the Veterans Home in Hastings.

More than a decade ago, the City of Farmington was named the first Yellow Ribbon city. Farmington police have helped with the event each year by mapping out addresses for cookie deliveries. Thank you for your time and dedication.

I am proud to say I founded the Cookie Walk a decade ago, but I wish to thank all the hundreds of people who have made it a success. This event is truly community-based and continues to thrive due to the time, goodwill and commitment of hundreds and hundreds of volunteers along the way.

This year the Cookie Walk has been renamed Cookies for Vets.

The mission is the same. This continues to be a labor of love and a sweet way to show gratitude to veterans and their families. It warms my heart to think how we honor men and women who are away from home at Christmas. Their families can sit together and enjoy a few sweet treats as a small gratitude for their family's service and sacrifice.

In 2013, Farmington Yellow Ribbon Network volunteers were honored with a North Star U.S. Congressional award. That honor made me believe in the power of volunteering to uplift humanity, even if it is only in the form of a few cookies.

Throughout the years I've heard amazing stories of how veteran families appreciate the simple gesture of the cookie trays.

One of our veteran, dedicated cookie bakers donates her to time to create cookies with yellow-ribbon frosting. She bakes to give back. Her veteran husband needed care at the veteran's hospital in Minneapolis after he suffered a brain injury from a fall. During her frequent hospital visits, she saw young veterans being treated at the VA hospital who were coping with life after war.

Over the years, volunteers deliver cookie trays to grateful families who all live with different stories of service and sacrifice. Many times family members get visibly emotional when they see cookie trays at their front door. One volunteer family who delivers had three children sing Christmas carols outside on the front step or inside as a bonus when delivering cookie trays.

I admit, I decided to start the Cookie Walk as a way to honor the life of my father. He was a Korean War veteran who died the year before the event began.

During his retirement, my dad decided to donate five years of his life to volunteering at the veteran's hospital in Des Moines, Iowa. He was committed to his volunteer work like a job. He shared many amazing stories and it was my father's dedication that inspired me to get involved in my community.

My father stressed how our country needs to show love and support for veterans whose lives are changed forever after their service in the military.

Check out Farmington and Rosemount Yellow Ribbon Networks on social media and chose how to get involved to support veterans and families.

If you wish to donate sweet treats to the Cookies for Vets event or want to deliver, please show up Sunday at the Rambling River Center.

I will be the one with a cookie baking hangover with a few festive cookie sprinkles on my shoes.

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