APPLETON, Wis. - Gary Coit of Appleton just returned from a nearly six month deployment to Guam and Japan, and one thing on the sailor's 'To Do' list was to thank the local Girl Scouts who sent him a taste of home during those long days away from his wife and young son.
Last week, the 2nd class petty officer got that opportunity. He met face-to-face with the Girl Scouts and shared photos of his most recent mission as an aviation structural mechanic with the U.S. Navy.
"We were going out to do a mission in North Korea," he explained.
The kids listened intently and were in awe of his service.
"I think that they are so kind to risk their lives for us," said 9-year-old Emalie Tennessen.
"I think they're brave," added 5th grader Becky Cramer.
They're positive messages Coit received from this very same group of Girl Scouts awhile ago while his unit was serving overseas.
Coit's sister works at Engage Orthodontics in Appleton. As part of their 'Engage the Community' initiative, they told local Girl Scouts that if they came into the office, they'd buy their cookies. 13 girls and nearly 80 boxes later, they invited the young saleswomen back to pack up the sweets and ship them to Coit's unit which was was missing life back in the States.
"Just knowing that people are thinking of you, it's really nice," he said. "It is a huge morale booster."
The sailors also received 60 handwritten thank you notes from the girls and their families.
"It was actually pretty emotional. A lot of people in the unit were a little choked up and crying," Coit said.
His unit hung on every word and savored every bite.
"A lot of people were fighting over the Caramel Delights and the Thin Mints," he joked.
Coit sent photos of the military members with their goodies back to Wisconsin to show the Girl Scouts how much they appreciated their surprise gift.
"It made me feel really happy inside," Cramer said.
Tennessen added, "It makes me feel like I'm helping people. We should do this more."
As a token of Coit's appreciation, when he returned to Appleton, he presented the Girl Scouts with a special shadow box. His unit signed a T-shirt with messages of thanks. They also put patches from their deployment, lanyards and photos of the girls and their cookies in the display case.
The acts of kindness from the Girl Scouts, Engage Orthodontics and the sailors have inspired the kids to look for more opportunities to make a difference.
"We've never experienced anything like this before being overseas, so it was really awesome," Coit said with a smile.