Chris Iseminger, custodian at Morris Area High School, served with the Minnesota National Guard for 25 years. During that time, he was deployed twice. Once to Baghdad, Iraq in 2004-2005 and the second time to Kuwait in 2009-2010. From those deployments he knows how important it is to get those care packages from home. That is why he suggested making cookies for recently deployed guards who will be spending the holidays working at Minnesota hospitals and care centers, testing sites and other places throughout the state.
In November, 400 citizen-soldiers and airmen trained as certified nursing assistants and temporary nursing aides to support this activation. The Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota National Guard medical staff provided the training.
Iseminger mentioned the idea to Morris Area High School FACS teacher Nissa Rose. She loved it and the two went on to get the permission from Principal Bill Kehoe who quickly said yes, and that it sounded good. The planning started and baking commenced soon after.
Part of the planning process was to contact Thrivent about a grant to cover the cost of baking supplies. Rose was given the grant for $250 and purchased the products needed. The Morris Area 3rd – 5th grade classes were asked to make cards to go along with the cookies. Some students from Mrs. Peper’s Digital Media class made cards as well.
On Tuesday, November 30 and Wednesday, December 1 the Foods 1 class, consisting of students in grades 9-12, mixed up 24 batches of dough,12 batches each day. There were six types of cookies and several types of candy. The dough was refrigerated until that afternoon when another group of students came in to do the baking. This was done with the help of Iseminger, Deb Olsen from Food Services, Ms. Rose and Martha Hanson (volunteer). The baking process took numerous hours over two days. By the end of the process there were over 1400 cookies and candy treats.
The following day the cookies were packaged to prepare for delivery and cards attached to each package. The third graders drew pictures of Super Heroes on their cards.
“It will put smiles on their faces,” stated Iseminger, remembering what it felt like to receive those types of packages during deployment. Even though these soldiers are deployed in Minnesota, it is just like being overseas as they will not be able to see their families on the holidays. They will work through the holidays to give the caregivers some well deserved time off.
On Thursday, December 2, Command Sergeant Major Chad A. Turner from the 1-151FA Montevideo picked up the packages of cookies and delivered them to the locations where the guards were deployed. It was an exciting day for the students and others who helped but will be an even more exciting time for those receiving their gifts.