Home sweet home: Chaplain uses cookies to reach out

BAGHDAD — For American military personnel serving in Iraq, there's nothing like a taste of home—literally.

Soldiers are finding comfort in a coffeehouse that provides homemade cookies run by a Baptist General Convention of Texas-endorsed chaplain, Kari Maschhoff.

"Our service members need a place they can know and feel that they are cared about," said Maschhoff, a San Antonio resident. "The chaplain coffeehouse is for them. It is about taking care of our service members. The mission of our unit demands a lot of them. They need a place where they can receive some care back.

"What we offer is quite simple really: fresh coffee, hot water for tea or cocoa, a table of miscellaneous snacks and plate of homemade cookies. The comments we get from the service members are that it feels a little bit like home."

Maschhoff makes some of the cookies for the 24-hour coffee shop with an Easy-Bake toy oven, which wafts a pleasant aroma throughout the area. Some baked goods are mailed to the chaplain from people who want to support the troops.

The coffee and cookies serve as more than reminders of home for service men and women—they are an avenue of connection, where troops can share with the chaplain about issues in their lives.

"The outreach connects our service members with people back home who want to show their support of our men and women in uniform by baking something special just for them," she said. "The outreach also draws in service members who might not otherwise come to see the chaplain. It is much easier to say to your leadership or buddies, 'I need a cup of coffee,' than 'I am having problems at home and need to talk to the chaplain.'

"The outreach is an informal way to bring in service members so we can offer a little chaplain loving care. We all need to know and feel that we are loved, and that is especially true when you live and work in a combat zone. Through the outreach, our hope is that the service members know that people back home care about them and are praying for them, that the chaplain team cares for them, and most importantly, that God cares for them and will never forget them."

For more information on how to send cookies, call 1-888-244-9400.