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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Sailors and Marines again are preparing to bring more than a show of U.S. military force to the nations their ships visit each year.

Hundreds of boxes of summer youth clothing and school supplies were collected from base communities in Okinawa and Sasebo for Operation Blue-Green Gift Box, organizers said, to be delivered during summer port visits to areas with high poverty levels.

The joint Marine-Navy program is undertaken yearly by the Amphibious Force, U.S. Seventh Fleet, organizers said.

“It’s gone really well, and we’re getting ready for the loading process right now,” said Chief Petty Officer Stephen Sullivan from the Navy’s Commander, Task Force-76 Chaplain’s Office on Okinawa. “We probably already have a couple of hundred boxes of goods, mostly clothes.”

Much of the current stockpile will go to the Philippines during Balikatan 2004 training, Sullivan said.

In Sasebo, donations still are being accepted through Sunday, said Cmdr. Harvey Ranard, command chaplain.

Collection points are the Religious Ministries department offices at the Community and Education Center on the main base and at the Hario Housing Village facility.

Almost any type of general school supplies can be used; donated clothing should be in good condition, clean and ready for packing, organizers said.

One of the main objectives, said Cmdr. Don Biadog Jr., CTF-76 Force chaplain, “is humanitarian assistance ... where the amphibious team goes and trains. Marine and Navy commanders make sure that civil military operations and community relations projects are performed every time the Marines and sailors visit and train in these countries.”

Amphibious ships are to deliver the donated goods to designated recipients. “It touches the hearts and minds of the local communities,” Biadog said.


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