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Vandenberg receives cookies from Albertsons customers this Valentine’s Day

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Most people receive gooey baked goods or fragrant flowers from a loved one for Valentine's Day; the Airmen of Vandenberg are not an exception.

California Albertsons stores from Morro Bay to Santa Barbara donated nearly 2,200 bags of cookies to Vandenberg schools, offices and Airmen here Feb. 12-13.

Jasper Cardinale, store director, and Todd Alvarez, assistant store director for Albertsons in Lompoc, played cupid for the Albertsons store chains. With the help of the 381st training squadron volunteer of the year, Senior Airman Mario Mitchell, 381st knowledge operator, and Airman First Class Shea Harris, 381st knowledge operator, Cardinale and Alvarez distributed freshly baked chocolate chip cookies to Crestview Elementary, Manzanita Elementary, Vandenberg's Youth Center, Vandenberg's Child Development Center, outdoor recreation, and the Vandenberg Chapel as well as Airmen in the 381st Training Support Squadron, 532nd Training Squadron and 533nd Training Squadron.

"On behalf of the Col. Edmonson, 381st TRG commander, and the entire 381st TRG, we thank you," said Lt. Col. Eric Yarrell, 381st TRG Support squadron commander. "This is the first time some of our young Airmen have been away from home for an extended period of time. I know they will appreciate this."

Yarrell presented both Cardinale and Alvarez with certificates of appreciation and his commander's coin here Tuesday.

"Commander coins are earned through hard work and dedication," said Yarrell. "They are not easy to obtain. I, however, have no doubt in my mind that you two deserve this and much more for your tireless military support."

Local communities were able to assist Albertsons' cookie drive and make the donation personal by paying $2.99 for a bag of a dozen cookies, and then writing a short memo for the recipient. Albertsons in Lompoc alone donated over 850 bags.

"We had three of our workers bake nearly 850 dozen bags of cookies," said Cardinale. "They started around 8 p.m. and finished around 4:30 a.m. both Monday and Tuesday evening."

Alvarez mentioned that their company doesn't just donate their time and resources to gain profit for their own store. "We ask ourselves, what can we do to benefit their organization?"

Cardinale and Mitchell have worked together before to organize a root beer float fundraiser for Airmen in the 381st TRG last summer, and a pancake breakfast for Vandenberg's "Wingman Day" last October.

"Our squadron works with Jasper and Albertsons in Lompoc quite often," said Mitchell. "They are so gracious, and we appreciate everything they have done for us."

Thanks to the support of participating community members, Vandenberg Airmen were struck by cupid's arrow.