Hiltrud Steimel recalls what it was like when she moved from Germany to Minnesota many years ago.
The Plymouth woman talks about how she thought she would never warm up because of the “bitter, bitter cold.”
Steimel also recalls “not recognizing the food that first year and how I missed some things from home, especially the food.”
Two or three years later, around Christmastime, she received a ‘care package’ from her family in Germany. It was what she needed.
It is that memory, along with a desire to recognize troops overseas, which spurred Steimel to initiate a “cakes for the troops” endeavor in 2007.
She, as founder of Rhineland Cake and Wine Co., has now teamed up with American Legion Post 57 in Chaska and the Rush City Bakery to resurrect the effort, this time as “Operation Cakes for Troops 2019.”
“I saw a snippet where they showed soldiers in the field several years before I thought of doing cakes for the troops in 2007, and I finally thought I should give something back,” said Steimel, who had two uncles serve in the military in World War II. “I thought it would be good for soldiers to know someone was thinking of them.”
About 500 cakes were sent to troops in 2007, but Steimel hopes the newest effort will reach 750 cakes, a German gugelhupf that appears similar to a small bundt-style cake.
“It’s a cake recipe that has been in my family for generations,” Steimel said, adding that nuts have been removed in case someone is allergic.
Steimel said it was heartwarming to receive photographs in 2007 from smiling service members holding their cakes, adding: “I hope to see more this time too.”
John Bourgeois, owner of the Rush City Bakery, said his bakery is “honored and proud” to be making the cakes, adding that the bakery will do its best to make sure the cakes are a “memorable gift” for the troops.
The cakes will immediately be frozen after baking and will remain frozen during shipment to preserve freshness.
A donation of $40 is being requested to help defray the cost of making, packaging and shipping the cakes. The deadline for orders is Dec. 3. Cakes will be shipped Dec. 10 to ensure delivery by Dec. 22.
Each cake will have a greeting attached, either from family and friends, or a general one to indicate the service member is being thought of during the holiday season.
Post 57 Commander Steve NaSalle said the Legion post is honored to be assisting Steimel and the bakery in their efforts to send the cakes to military members.
“Getting a package from home always makes someone feel better, and this way, those service people overseas will know there are people in Minnesota caring about them,” NaSalle said.
“We will be doing everything possible to help,” he mentioned, adding that the American Legion post in Hutchinson is also assisting in the effort. “It’s just a really good thing.”