Bonnie Miller has been purchasing Cheryl’s Cookies for over 25 years, but not for herself. Instead, the grandmother of eight gives them away to practically everyone she encounters to express her appreciation and love. The trash collector finds one waiting for him every week. The mail carrier finds one tucked in the mailbox. And children in the neighborhood know if they ring her doorbell, they’ll be given a cookie straight from Bonnie’s cache in her kitchen freezer.
These acts of joy have turned Bonnie Miller into “The Cookie Lady.” She does not remember exactly how long she’s been handing out Cheryl’s Cookies, but her daughter Jodi deduced it started when her grandchildren were born. They’re now all in their 20s.
“When you do something you love, you just do it. You don’t think about it or keep track of it. It’s just become a part of me,” Bonnie says from her home in Michigan.
The number of cookies doled out over the years is countless, too. Bonnie buys them in batches of 36. Sometimes she gets two boxes a month, but the longest she has ever gone without ordering is three months. She remembers being given a cookie and loving it, ordering her first box “which cost me a lot of money,” she says. “The rest is history.”
With Grandparents Day approaching, we had to speak with Bonnie, 80, to learn more about her cookie generosity and what being a grandmother means to her.
Why did you want to give out cookies?
I just want to give a little joy and love to others. I started it for my grandkids and then it just grew with my neighborhood kids; then I’d leave one for my trash man — he brings my trash can back up to my garage after. And the recycle guy. And the manicurist.
I’m gonna read you a text I got from the gal who does my nails: “Good morning, Ms. Bonnie. Thank you for the cookies. They went into Jordan’s lunch box today.”
I had a painter here giving me an estimate and the doorbell rings and he looks at me and said you’ve got a whole bunch of kids on your porch. There were four boys. Of course, I knew they were looking for cookies.
I give them to everybody that comes to the house to do something for me. Before my husband passed, I took a box for the nurses and caregivers. They are my first go-to gift.
Are you hoping the recipients of these cookies take something away from your generosity?
I hope they take away joy and love. I hope it encourages them to pass some kindness on to others. Showing that it doesn’t have to be a huge gift.
What’s your favorite Cheryl’s cookie?
Do you know that Cheryl’s now makes cupcakes?
Oh! No. I’m sure I’ll love them, but cookies are kind of my trademark. I might have to try a box. We’ll see. You salesman you.
What did you do for a living before becoming the Cookie Lady?
My last job was years ago — I was an executive secretary. I asked Donald [her husband of 50 years who died in January 2023] if he would like me to continue working or to be at home with the children. And he gave the choice to me. I can still remember crying because I said all I ever wanted to be was a wife and a mom. So I was blessed to stay home.
How do you keep busy nowadays?
I work two days a week at Chick-Fil-A as a hostess. I love it! I love my coworkers, my manager, the owner, and the management team are beyond fabulous. And I love the guests. I think it’s a mission for me because my hobby is people.
What’s the difference between being a grandparent and a parent?
Well, I know I spoil them more. But my spoiling never goes against a rule that I know is important to my children, their parents. If they would come to Nana and ask me for something, even when they were smaller, that Mom and Dad would not approve of, I would never break that rule. But, I might find a way to circumvent it and do something similar.
What does being a grandmother mean to you?
The world. Next to being a mom, it’s the best thing that could ever have happened in my life. I don’t know how better to answer that. My grandchildren are with my children and they are the legacies that Don and I will leave on this earth.
How did your grandparents influence you?
The first thing is the unconditional love they gave, which is what I tried to do for my grandchildren. And then their faith greatly influenced my life.
What brings you the most satisfaction as a grandparent?
Watching them grow up and become responsible, kind individuals, and valuing other people.
Is there one memory of your grandchildren that stands out more than others?
I think the love they have for me when we’re together. They genuinely care about me. I was in the hospital two weeks ago, and I was amazed of how it affected them. I’ll get texts periodically: “Hi, Nana. Just checking in. I love you.”
Anytime we’re together, I experience such joy and I love hearing about their lives. We laugh a lot together. They’re just fun to be with.
What makes a good grandparent?
Well, first and foremost, you want to earn their trust. And you want to earn their confidence. So if they say they had an issue, they’re real mad or upset about something, they would come to me knowing that they could share with me, and it would stay with me. Unless it was something that I knew in my heart and my head that my children had to know.
And I like being a good listener.