Editors Note: For more information about Grammys Cookie Convoy, visit http://troopsproject.com. Donations can be sent to: Grammys Cookie Convoy, Inc., P.O. Box 1202, Montgomery, Texas, 77356. You can follow Grammys Cookie Convoy on social media on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @GrammysCookie.
There are many ways to show love on Valentine’s Day. People typically send roses, cards, boxes of chocolate, jewelry and the list goes on. More often that not, the love is sent to a significant other, parent, child, friend or close relative. For Marlene Summers of Houston, Texas, she sends cookies and thank you cards to troops in Afghanistan and all around the world. Since 2003, Grammys Cookie Convoy, the non-profit that Summers started, has sent 250,000 chocolate chip cookies to the troops.
Who is Marlene Summers and why is this a great golf story? She is actually the “American Mom” to Symetra Tour professional Jayde Panos, who enters her third year on Tour in 2017. They met at TPC at the Woodlands about six years ago and Panos asked her to play a round. Eighteen holes of golf turned into a mom-daughter type relationship for Panos, whose biological parents are 10,000 plus miles away in Perth, Australia. At the time, Panos was going to college in the United States at Oklahoma State and needed a place to stay during the summer months to continue to play golf in the United States. Summers opened her doors and a few days quickly turned to a week and then a month.
More recently, Panos was moved by what Summers does with Grammys Cookie Convoy and was driven to help. The non-profit had little-to-no presence on social media and was doing the very minimum to ask for donations so Panos decided to takeover running all the social media for Grammys Cookie Convoy.
Prior to Valentine’s Day, Panos helped pack 5,000 cookies and cards along with 50 other volunteers. Grammys Cookie Convoy does two shipments a year, Valentine’s Day and Christmas. Those are truly the times when troops away from their families need to feel loved the most.
“She is such a kind lady and she has done so much for me like hosting me over the summers while I was in college and the awesome thing is these cookies not only go to American troops, but Australian troops and others all over the world,” explained Panos. “We just want to grow her social media awareness and share with people what she is doing."
In a short time, Panos is seeing success. She recently posted on social media about the Pay Pal to donate and within a few days, they got an anonymous $100 donation. Summers told Panos that is was her first donation in “a while”.
Panos is not the only Symetra Tour player involved. Desiree Dubreuil, who has played on Tour since 2014, recently penned 15 hand-written notes to accompany the cookies. Panos then reached out to Dubreuil about helping with the social media.
“Desiree doesn’t even know Marlene and she is jumping on board,” said Panos. “She just told me that she wants to do whatever she can help this amazing lady.”
For Dubreuil, whose grandfather was a B52 pilot, it was Panos’ simple Facebook post about Grammys Cookie Convoy that struck a chord. She was ready to help.
“I watched the local news story on Marlene and it connected with me, I thought it was really cool,” said Dubrueil. “I mean, she’s paying for things out of her own pocket and she has done all of this by herself. So I thought the least I could do is write some thank you notes that she could send to the troops.”
Dubreuil brought thank you notes to a recent family dinner and had her mom and sister write thank you notes to the troops.
“Marlene was so excited to get them and I didn’t even think we were doing anything that special,” said Dubreuil. “Jayde thought we could make this really big because we have a platform with golf to really help her. As soon as Jayde told me about what we could do to help spread the cause, I was all in.”
Dubreuil, who went to school in Texas and comes from a very patriotic family, simply wants to make the troops feel appreciated overseas.
“Anything you can do to reach out to the troops and let them know that we care about them really helps,” said Dubreuil. “These men and women are fighting for our freedom and to see the pictures of them receiving the cookies and cards is great.”
The immediate goals for Panos and Dubreuil are to fundraise enough money to offset the cookies and shipping for the 2017 Christmas shipping and to get enough thank you notes to accompany each cookie.
Marlene started the initiative after a round of golf with a military member that was about to deployed. Ten years and 250,000 cookies have been shipped and now Panos and Dubreuil are ready to take the non-profit to new heights.
Now that’s Yummy!