"Open the door," "I heard a car," "I think he's coming," 10 nervous girls crowded around the front door of an Ahwatukee Foothills home waiting to meet the soldier they had spent hours selling cookies for.

It began as a surprise for relatives of the girls. The local troop sold about 300 cookies that year to send to five soldiers. The next year they extended their tradition to other soldiers with relatives in Arizona. The group sold 1,200 cookies and sent them to 25 soldiers.

Now one of those soldiers has returned home safely from his deployment in Iraq and wanted to thank the troop in person.

The girls all smiled for pictures and giggled at each other's silly noises as they waited anxiously for National Guard medic Shawn Malkind to arrive. When he did they clapped, cheered and giggled.

"Giggly group," Malkind said when he was finally facing Brownie Troop 1145. "Thank you very much for the stuff: The enormous box of cookies. I'd like to tell you it took a really long time to eat them, but the next day they were all gone because soldiers like cookies."

Malkind presented the girls with the flag that was flown over their base and a certificate of appreciation.

"It's just a small token of our appreciation for your support of us in this deployment," he said, adding that he had no idea that the package was coming.

Malkind had never met the girls before or even knew about their project. When he was told he had a package and was shocked at the size of the box and the amount of cookies inside. The troop had sent nearly 60 boxes of cookies to him.

"I didn't know anything on this scale was coming," Malkind said. "Someone said ‘Hey you've got a box,' and it's this enormous box of Girl Scout cookies. I just thought that was really nice. And of course the nice thing is it wasn't limited to just me, everyone in the platoon got a little dose of happiness from it."

Malkind said he went door to door and everyone was able to grab their favorite cookies.

The girls visited with Malkind for about an hour, asking him whatever questions came to mind. They asked about Iraq, if he ever got dirty or if there were any girls there, what his favorite Girl Scout cookies are and even whether or not he had a girlfriend.

The 27-year-old answered each question with a smile. Yes, he got dirty; the girls worked just as hard as the boys, his favorite Girl Scout cookies are Samoas and yes, he has a wonderful girlfriend who is preparing to become a nurse.

This was Malkind's third deployment to Iraq and he plans to leave the National Guard soon to concentrate on school full time. He hopes to become a pediatrician.

The girls plan to continue with their tradition in January when cookie sales begin again. They now have pictures and letters from past soldiers to show to their customers and help sell even more cookies. Their goal is to double their sales.

For more information on when cookie sales will begin and how to submit a soldier to send them to, e-mail Kay Moroz at kay@q.com.

Allison Hurtado is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a junior at Arizona State University.


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