MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Holiday goodies, such as cookies and candy, would be nice.

But first, Misawa’s First Four Organization needs boxes.

The private group for E-1 to E-4 airmen is filling care packages for about 70 single airmen from Misawa who will be deployed through the holidays.

So far, organizers have gathered the essentials — the American Red Cross-donated bags of personal hygiene products.

And the Army and Air Force Exchange Service pitched in packs of chewing gum, orange Tic-Tacs, lip balm and notepads — scarce items in some remote deployed locations.

But First Four members need boxes to ship the goods, preferably ones about the size of a shoe box.

“We need nearly 70 boxes,” group Vice President Airman 1st Class Matt Gertonson said Monday.

Anyone with boxes to donate is asked to drop them off at American Forces Network or 35th Fighter Wing headquarters.

Misawa has about 150 airmen deployed, a majority for Aerospace Expeditionary Force Silver. Most of the 70 or so single airmen deployed are supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to base officials. They left in mid-November and will be away 120 days or more.

The boxes will be sent through the military postal system, each to an individual airman, said Airman 1st Class Abby Young, First Four president. With Christmas Day fast approaching, the plan is to get the boxes there by the first of the year, Gertonson said.

Donations from the community still are welcome.

“We’re trying to send them stuff that’s harder for them to get on a consistent basis,” Gertonson said.

Young said that the group also wants to include holiday treats such as cookies and candy canes — as long as they’re nonperishable.

So far, the deployed airmen haven’t been notified of what’s to come in the mail.

“It will probably be a total surprise,” Gertonson said.

For more information about donating, or to help with stuffing care packages, call DSN 226-3814 or 226-3815.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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