YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Yokota’s deployed servicemembers are about to get some heartfelt reading material, courtesy of the Arts & Crafts Center.

That’s where community members will gather for a project called “Love Books for the Troops.”

Michelle Newman, a self-described art ambassador and nationally renowned textile designer, flew here last week at her own expense and will lead two workshops Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The group hopes to personalize 150 books, each containing messages and mementos expressing support and appreciation.

Organizers still are seeking spouses, children ages 7 and older, and other volunteers to carry out the task.

More than 20 people have committed so far.

“This is the first time we’re trying this,” said Myrna Puzon, program manager for the Yokota Arts & Crafts Center.

“All we need now is volunteers to come with scissors, glue sticks and rulers. Hardly anything is needed on their part, because we have everything else.

“We’re doing this to let our servicemembers know that we think of them often, and they’re in our hearts and prayers.”

Newman contacted several U.S. companies, who donated thousands of dollars in supplies.

Those supplies will be used to make accordion-type books, Puzon said, and they’ll be passed on to the families of Yokota’s deployed airmen.

Loved ones then can scribble down thoughts and phrases and fill the pages with special mementos or photographs.

“We want the families to personalize them, make them really special for their own son, husband or wife,” she added.

“The families will send them directly to the troops. They will have more meaning if they’re personalized by the families.”

Each book will be wrapped in a camouflaged bandana before shipment downrange, with a message from Psalm 91 of the Old Testament.

Newman, in Japan for the first time, has conducted outreach projects in the past for U.S. servicemembers.

During the first Gulf War, she put together the world’s largest valentine in San Antonio and sent it to the Middle East.

“I believe with all my heart and soul that we need to support our troops and show that we love and care about them,” said Newman, who has appeared on Home and Garden Television, the Discovery Channel and several craft segments of the “Carol Duvall Show”.

“We’re using art as a vehicle to show our love and support. Art really crosses almost every cultural boundary. It heals, and art is a good way to express feelings, thoughts and emotions.”

Newman says she’ll return to Yokota in the fall for another project, which may be expanded, to include other deployed airmen, sailors, Marines and solders from Japan.

About 190 Yokota airmen are in Iraq and Afghanistan supporting the global war on terrorism.

Those interested in joining Monday’s effort may contact Puzon at 225-9044.

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