Soldier returns in time for Girl Scout cookie pickup
by Bradley Hartsell
In the Thursday, Feb. 27 Food & Dining feature story “A taste of home,” Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta was incorrectly abbreviated as GSGC. The correct abbreviation is GSGATL.
The Girl Scout program Smiles4Military was incorrectly called Smiles 4 Soldiers.
A highly anticipated time of year has arrived — Girl Scout cookie season has begun — and this past weekend the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta hosted the annual Count N Go event. The occasion celebrates the delivery of the famous cookies, and troop leaders arrived to retrieve their scouts’ cases of confections.
Kalika Wade was one of those troop leaders, but she was worried she was going to miss the window of opportunity to pick up her share.
She had a good excuse, though. She was driving back from Camp Shelby in Mississippi with her husband, First Lieutenant Doniel Wade, who had just returned from an 18-month deployment in Afghanistan.
GSGA designated eight pick-up spots, and Wade, who lives in Fairburn, was assigned to the Newnan area post. Fortunately, the Wades arrived just in time to the designated parking lot on Raymond Hill Road in north Coweta.
Last year, Wade started Troop 13709 at Oakley Elementary School in Fairburn. She continues to lead the group, which includes her daughter, Trinity.
Doniel, still in full uniform, and Kalika Wade loaded the truck with 217 cases of cookies, barely able to fit all the cases in one vehicle.
“Everything went extremely well. It was very stressful but also very fun,” said Wade, who thought she was going to have to cancel her cookie pickup. “This is his first week home, and it’s such a relief. I work full-time, and when he’s gone, we’re acting like a single-parent family.”
“It was interesting, but it was fun,” added 1st Lt. Wade. “I already made plans to vacation in Biloxi, but we drove straight through, back home. We ended up going to Callaway Gardens.”
Wade is currently the only volunteer for her troop, and she’s been actively trying to recruit other parents to help out. On Sunday, she didn’t have any additional support for the cookie pickup and knew she needed to make the deadline in time for her troop. Wade knows how important it is to rally for her young scouts and hopes she can find other volunteers to rally with her.
“One of the things that touches my heart the most is the leadership skills these girls are learning,” said Wade, who was proud when the Brownie scouts came to her house later that night to pick up their cookies. “You’re never too busy to volunteer. My husband is registering to be a leader because he wants to help, too.”
“A lot of these Girl Scouts are giving back to local animal shelters, to military and homeless shelters,” said GSATL’s Tori Hansen. “It’s important to ask, how are we serving our community?
“It’s more than selling cookies, they’re learning a lifetime of experiences and skill sets. They set goals, work as teams. and learn decision-making. It’s a lot more than what’s in the box.”
The best part?
Wade, a photographer, snuck away by having her mom watch the two kids, telling them she had a photography gig out of town. She covertly picked up her husband, dropped him off at Urban Jungle in Peachtree City, and took her family there, letting her kids play while their father was still in secret.
The two kids were climbing an indoor rock wall when 1st Lt. Wade stepped out.
“My daughter turned around before she was supposed to and saw me. She just turned back around, like she was in shock, because she didn’t believe it was me. My son saw me and just fell. Luckily, he had a harness on,” said Wade.
“It was fun and it was definitely a good moment,” he added.
Wade knew his wife had a lot on her plate while he was away. Now, he’s thankful he gets to be around and help out with the things he’s had to miss for the past 18 months.
“She’s been doing scouts for the last year, and I told her I would help out when I got home,” he said. “It’s been tough on her because she’s been doing a lot of extra stuff, picking up the slack without me. Being back home, it’s already been fun [helping out]. We’ve been having scout meetings. We just had one yesterday, in fact.”
Girls Scouts of Greater Atlanta have a program, Smiles4Military, which delivers military personnel with simple but profound reminders of home. Wade says while he was away, he and his fellow soldiers often received Girl Scout Cookies, to the delight of everyone.
“We were able to partake in quite a few girl scout cookies. I gave my last box to the guys who were coming in to replace us,” he said, noting his favorite cookie is the traditional shortbread cookies he remembers eating while growing up. “The cookies are symbolic of a lot of things. Those are items they’d send from home, and it added up to be the comforts of home that help you get through the days over there.”
“It’s been dangerous over there [in Afghanistan],” said Kalika Wade. “I’m just overjoyed and fully blessed. I’m glad he’s back on this side on the world.”