Germaine Broussard

Volunteer of the Year
Morgan Stanley Smith Barney 

Germaine Broussard’s story illustrates how a small act of kindness can snowball into a genuine movement. In 2003, Ms. Broussard, an advisor with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in McLean, VA, began baking cookies for four servicemen abroad.

Along with the cookies, she sent a handwritten note and a special request: “Give my name to a friend.” She received names — lots of names. After about 18 months, it became an avalanche. “In 2005, I was given a ship — 250 sailors,” she said. By 2007, she was baking for 1,500 marines — still single- handedly, and still with a personal note for each. She says she can bake 3,000 cookies in a weekend.

Word continued to spread and volunteers surfaced to join Ms. Broussard’s efforts, which today reach 20,000 troops a year. Hundreds of volunteers nationwide prepare thousands of bags, which now include snacks and toiletries. “I have a lady in Texas who just writes notes, Girl Scout troops in two states that do bagging parties. High school kids get community service hours for helping,” she said. Other volunteers also create Christmas stockings and serve as pen pals. “One person can make a difference — that’s the whole point,” she said.