Library staff and patrons honor veterans for Christmas

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee County Library held its second annual Christmas Cookie Swap on Saturday, Dec. 15, however, it was not your ordinary cookie swap. According to Sonya Chapa, who headed up the project, every year the staff of the library try to come up with a way to give back to the community, especially at Christmas time. This year, they thought it would be a lot of fun to combine the cookie swap with that goal, so they asked each participant if, instead of bringing one dozen cookies to trade, they would bring two dozen and the second dozen would be delivered to local veterans as a thank you for their service and a Merry Christmas from the staff and patrons of the library. Ms. Chapa was overwhelmed by the response. They ended up with enough cookies to make more than 80 tins of cookies.

Sonya Chapa from the Okeechobee County Library, Tom Leach, Senior Services program director and Sarah Carter from Veteran’s Services deliver cookies to area veterans. Lake Okeechobee News/Cathy Womble.

On Monday, Dec. 17, Ms. Chapa along with Mariah Anuez, Human Resources director for Okeechobee County and Sarah Carter of Veteran’s Services delivered about 80 tins of cookies to the Lottie Raulerson Senior Center, the Okeechobee Health Care Facility, Grand Oaks and to several individual veterans around Okeechobee. Kresta King, the director of the library spent hours trying to track down veterans so they could reach as many as possible. They even advertised on Facebook.

In the weeks leading up to the event, patrons made cards to include with the tins of cookies.

Ms. Chapa said everyone was so excited about having the opportunity to do something nice for someone else. It is always so much more fun to give than it is to receive. Ms. Chapa was very emotional as she said she never realized how much this would affect the people they gave the cookies to, and she didn’t realize how much it would affect her. She said some of the veterans told her the gift the library brought was the only one they expected to receive this year, and the cards they received were the only ones they were given. It meant a lot to all of them to be a part of making the veterans feel loved and cared about. “No one should be forgotten at Christmas time, and especially not our veterans,” said Ms. Chapa.

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