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SD Convention Center sends cookies to troops

Each month since 2011, the Centerplate team bakes, packs up and sends dozens and dozens of cookies to Navy men and women serving overseas.

Centerplate’s cookie drop operation started seven years ago when Centerplate Chef Jerry Hall was looking at a lot of leftover cookies from a convention, reached out to his daughter-in-law, Cmdr. Suzanne Lyons-Elleraas, who was on her fourth deployment to the Middle East, and shipped them to her overseas. 

The cookies were a huge hit, Lyons-Elleraas recalls, “Like a ‘bat signal,’ a cookie in the sky…people who didn’t normally stop by my desk were finding reasons to come over.” 

Soon after, Lyons-Elleraas was relaying “orders from the field to send more cookies” to her father-in-law.

Hall, Centerplate Executive Chef Daryl O’Donnell and the culinary team were happy to get to work, creating a cookie care package to the Middle East every month, with more and more cookies each time.

“In everything that we do, the goal is to lend our skills to enhance the life experience of others,” O’Donnell says, adding that he often sends a note in with the cookies, “to let them know we’re thinking about them, praying for them.”

The cookie project has grown over the years, even after Lyons-Elleraas’ deployment ended. Each month the 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. 

“It’s a huge boost to morale,” O’Donnell says. “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.”

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