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Baking with love for wounded soldiers Citizen of the Week

Donna Padilla of Wood River leads a team of “Baker Angels” who send home-made treats to wounded soldiers at Fort Lewis. - Denise Miller / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Donna Padilla of Wood River leads a team of “Baker Angels” who send home-made treats to wounded soldiers at Fort Lewis.
— image credit: Denise Miller / Snoqualmie Valley Record

Few things are as comforting as home-baked cookies.

That’s why Donna Padilla of North Bend coordinates efforts to send hundreds of them every month in care packages for wounded soldiers at Fort Lewis.

Making hospital life a little sweeter is a cause close to Padilla’s heart.

Her own son, Jason, a U.S. Marine, was shot three times in 2004 on patrol in Ramadi, Iraq. While visiting him in a San Diego hospital, Padilla met other military moms, and eventually joined a support group.

As her son recovered, Padilla stayed in the loop. An e-mailed request from another Marine mother for baked goods for a meeting of wounded soldiers inspired her to start baking regularly, and she encouraged some of her friends to do the same.

Now Padilla’s got about 15 to 30 “Baker Angels” whipping up treats each month, and “there are always enough goodies to go around,” she said.

Padilla bakes dozens of desserts, and also picks up cookies, brownies and breads made by others. She freezes them until it’s time for a monthly delivery to Madigan Hospital at Fort Lewis, where most of the wounded are far from their loved ones. When the Padillas’ kitchen freezer overflowed with donated food, her husband bought a reach-in model to keep in the garage.

“He created a monster when he bought me that, because I’ve got that one full now, too,” laughed Padilla, who said she’s been amazed and heartened by the generosity of community members from the Valley and beyond.

“Even though it was a negative thing that happened to my son, a lot of positive has come out of it because of all the wonderful people I have met,” she said. “They do so much of the work, and they do it with their hearts.”

Padilla also takes special requests from the hospital; she recently collected a six-month supply of a dietary supplement for an underweight soldier, and helped bake 300 pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving for Madigan patients. Through another organization called “Operation Spirit of Christmas,” she sends care packages including hand-written holiday cards and student artwork to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Padilla’s goal for the “Baker Angels” is to have more contributors in the group and deliver twice-monthly to Madigan. She would also like to provide baked treats to soldiers who go through the USO at the airport.

“Home-baked items seem to bring a smile to their faces. A little something from home is so important to them when they’re far away,” she said.

• Padilla is always looking for more bakers or baking supplies. To help, call her at (425) 922-0685, or e-mail to bakerangels1@aol.com.

• Do you know Valley residents who deserve recognition for their good work? Nominate them for Citizen of the Week, an award co-sponsored by the Valley Record and Replicator Graphics. Send your ideas to editor@valleyrecord.com, or call (425) 888-2311.

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