CAMP EDWARDS, Mass. – “These cookies are awesome, it’s great to know we’re being thought of back home,” said Staff Sgt. James Lally, a Public Affairs Noncommissioned Officer, currently deployed to Afghanistan with the 26th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. “Having a taste of home helps to keep you from being too homesick.”
30,000 boxes of love in the form of Peanut Butter Patties and Thin Mints and a multitude of other flavors were sent to deployed service members by the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts here, March 12th.
The Girl Scouts motto of “Do a good turn daily” was more than recognized by service members as they carried car-loads of cookies to a waiting truck on Tactical Training Base Kelley.
Troop 85130 stood out more than the rest, not for the number of boxes they raised, but because of who is in the troop.
Olivia Golemme, a Daisy Girl Scout in Troop 85130 raised over 400 boxes of Girl Scout cookies with the help of her family. Olivia and her mother Karianne Golemme, the troop leader, have a much larger connection to TTB Kelley and the Massachusetts National Guard than most. This is because TTB Kelley is named in honor of Olivia’s uncle and Karianne’s younger brother, Sgt. Michael J. Kelley, a Massachusetts Guardsman who was killed in Afghanistan while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Kelley was killed in action while deployed with the 101st Field Artillery Battalion in 2005, when Olivia was still very young.
“When I found out about the event, I was sort of hoping in the back of my mind that they would someday do something a little closer,” said Karianne “And do something down at Camp Edwards.”
Karianne and Olivia helped with “Cookies for a Cause” last year which was held at Hanscom Air Force base. This year saw a south-easterly move to Camp Edwards on Cape Cod.
“And then all of a sudden it just happened,” Karianne said. “In January an email came out that they created another location for the “Cookies for a Cause” event and it happened to be down at Camp Edwards.”
“Once they opened it to the base in Bourne, and knowing our connections to the TTB Kelley, I just took the ball and ran with it,” she said “I just decided to make it our troop’s mission to get as many cookies as we possibly could to bring down here, and bring to the event.”
“No one in the troop really knew about my brother, about my family or that my brother was killed in action,” she said. “But when this came out, I poured my heart out in an email and expressed how connected we are to this, and how important it is for our family to continue to support the troops and still tell Michaels story.”
After sending the email and telling the girls and their families about her brother, the troop really came together to support the cause, said Karianne.
“All of the girls are going,” she said. “I have the entire troop and their families attending together”
Furthermore, since Kelley’s death in 2005 his family has maintained strong ties with the Guard.
“My younger sister is really involved,” said Karianne. “She’s a family readiness coordinator for Michael’s unit which is back in Iraq right now.” “
“We’re really close with everyone Michael served with,” she continued. “We get together with them frequently.”
“Before he went to Afghanistan, my brother had come to our house … Olivia was only one … he got down on the floor and was playing with her … He looked up at me and said, do you think she’ll always remember me?” said Karianne.
At the end of the day, the Girl Scouts fulfilled their through their efforts collecting all of the cookies. The mission was important to Karianne, but the opportunity to keep the memory of her brother alive eclipsed it.
“I felt it was Michael saying, ‘hey, still remember me,’” she said.