Saturday, Mar 13, 2021

‘Nothing like the love of homemade cookies’: Hilton Head’s Cookie Lady is back and baking

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Hilton Head Island has been missing a little bit of its sweetness since April.

That’s when Jeanette Cramm, the island’s “Cookie Lady,” stopped baking.

The 79-year-old was frying bacon in her Hilton Head Plantation home when she fell and broke her foot. When it happened, she thought she’d baked her last batch.

“That really messed me up. I couldn’t walk and I was in terrible pain,” she said.

What followed was a painful series of months away from the kitchen doing what she loves: Baking for the troops.

In 1990, Cram started baking cookies to send to U.S. troops stationed overseas after then-President George H.W. Bush read a letter in a televised speech from a soldier asking for “cookies and letters.” Cram and her network of bakers across the country called “Treat the Troops” have sent eight million cookies to deployed troops since that speech.

But it all hung in the balance after Cram’s fall.

She spent months learning to walk again and cycling through different rehab programs. She found a Synergy HomeCare caregiver named Julia Marshall — someone who knew how to help her without making her feel judged or coddled.

“She cared for me in a very kind and calm way,” Cram remembered. “I was a mess and I didn’t want to be here anymore. I felt like I was in my first childhood, it’s embarrassing.”

After months of intensive help at home and pushing her to recover, Marshall got Cram back in the kitchen. She’s back baking and doing what she loves.

Cram admits she has taken a back seat in the Treat the Troops organization. Younger people have stepped up to organize the baking and shipping. That’s how it’s supposed to be, she said.

But her 30-year commitment still inspires her to spread love and kindness in the world. Cram remembered the call she got from a soldier’s father after his son died overseas.

“His son had gotten my cookies and even talked to him about them. He loved them,” she recalled somberly.

With Marshall’s help, Cram is back baking and touching lives even from across the world.

“Those soldiers have made a commitment to us and they deserve a commitment from us,” she said. “There’s nothing like the love of homemade cookies. It’s love.”


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