Low Country's "Cookie Lady" Swamped

Imagine being far from home in a dangerous place and somebody sends you a care package with home-baked cookies.

Hilton Head's "Cookie Lady" does just that. She's sent more than 65,000 cookies to American troops overseas.

But right now, she's a bit overwhelmed.

Since the war started, Jeanette Cram has averaged about ten cookie requests per month, but since March 1, she's gotten 400 and simply can't keep up.

She's even had to stop filling requests for the first time ever.

"It breaks my heart to say, 'No I can't send you any cookies,'" she explained, "but there's just no way. It's just physically impossible. I'm old!"

The problem started at the beginning of March, when a stack of requests showed up and all of them seemed to have comments like this: "I am a US Marine fighting in Afghanistan. We received a list of sites that provide free stuff for troops."

As Cram's assistant, Jill Arneman, explained it, "We somehow got on a list, and after that we were just swamped."

The Cookie Lady says the best way people can help is send their own boxes, instead asking her to.

She says it's a lot easier than people might think.

"There's ten dozen cookies in this platter right here," she pointed out. "And we will do each box gets five dozen."

And it shouldn't just be cookies. Cram packs in candy, toiletries.anything she thinks the troops might need.

"This is like filling up a Christmas stocking. This is fun. This is really fun," she laughed.

Cram says even the packing material can be cheap and helpful: she uses plastic grocery bags. Then all you have to do is slap on an address and a customs form from the post office, and anyone can be the Cookie Lady.

Cram says what frustrates her most is that several of the organizations listed on the list that's got her so swamped aren't even around any more, and at least one isn't even free stuff; it's someone looking for a profit.

If you'd like to help the Cookie Lady, log on to her website at http://www.treatthetroops.org/ but remember, she's not accepting new requests right now.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com