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posted: 11/26/2013 12:39 PM

E. Dundee bakery sends goodies to troops serving overseas

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Operation Sweettooth is still under way.

This year, the program may not have received the press it has in the past, but cookies and Rice Krispie treats are still being sent to Fox Valley natives who are serving in the U.S. military.

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Roger and Diane Ahrens, owners of East Dundee's Piece-A-Cake Bakery, continue to bake and mail the treats across the globe.

"And we won't stop until all the troops are home," Diane said. "This year has been kind of slow. We use to average about six boxes a month. This year we haven't had that many. I hope being down is a good sign."

But Christmas is less than a month away and orders most likely will increase as they have in past years. Family members have called or walked into their North River Street store weeks before Christmas and requested a dozen or so treats to be sent to their loved ones fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan or healing in military hospitals.

Since sharing is an important part of the holidays, the couple doubles -- and sometimes triples -- the orders, so the recipients can share them with their comrades. One dozen turns into three or four dozen.

"This is a labor of love for us," Diane said. "We know the excitement of receiving packages from home."

Both bakers served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Nine years ago they started Operation Sweettooth when the U.S. military invaded Iraq. From the start, they agreed not to charge families for the labor, ingredients or the individually wrapped cookies. They just asked for donations to cover the $24 in shipping costs.

"We still have soldiers in Iraq," she said. "They haven't been in the news lately, but we send a box or two there every now and then. Now our goal is to send as many to USO (United Service Organization) locations as possible. We also send some to Afghanistan. "

Since the project started, the couple has sent six tons of cookies to U.S. troops. They have received about as many thank-you notes from the recipients.

"(The soldiers) need to know they are not forgotten. Even if we don't hear about where they are every day, we still know they are away from home," she said.

For the confections to reach the troops by Christmas, Roger said orders must be received by Dec. 14. To place an order, call the bakery at (847) 936-8703.

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