(Pictured L-R: Centerplate Executive Chef Daryl O’Donnell with U.S. Navy Cmdr. Suzanne Lyons-Elleraas and her father-in-law Chef Jerry Hall)
by Tara Fitzpatrick (Food-Management.com) & Mira Duriman
Centerplate’s cookie drop operation started eight years ago when Centerplate Chef Jerry Hall was looking at a lot of leftover cookies from a convention, and shipped them overseas to his daughter-in-law, Cmdr. Suzanne Lyons-Elleraas, who was on her fourth deployment to the Middle East.
The cookies were irresistible to the reaching hands of neighboring lieutenants. “Like a ‘bat signal,’ a cookie in the sky,” says Cmdr. Lyons-Elleraas, “people who didn’t normally stop by my desk were finding reasons to come over.” Soon after, she was relaying “orders from the field to send more cookies” to her father-in-law.
The cookie project has grown over the years, even after Lyons-Elleraas’ deployment ended. Each month the Centerplate team donates time to bake and ship 12 boxes of 80 cookies each to show their gratitude to the troops. The cookies have shipped to naval units worldwide in the Middle East, the Pacific, the Philippines and Guam.
“In everything that we do, the goal is to lend our skills to enhance the life experience of others,” O’Donnell explains, adding that he often sends a note in with the cookies, “to let them know we’re thinking about them, praying for them. It’s a huge boost to morale. Baking cookies for the troops is the least we can do each month to show appreciation for the men and women who keep us safe.”
For more info, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSWl_jlpykA