Yokota fires up the ovens for annual Cookie Crunch
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — It’s “Crunch” time again for the Yokota Enlisted Spouses Club, which plans to distribute nearly 11,000 homemade cookies this week to the base’s 900 unaccompanied servicemembers — one dozen at a time.
The fifth annual “Cookie Crunch” unfolds Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. from the West Chapel, where the cookies may be dropped off curbside, bagged, and picked up by Yokota’s first sergeants for delivery that afternoon.
“Yokota is much more community-oriented than any other base back in the States,” said Kristie Drown, chairwoman of the YESC’s Cookie Crunch committee. “A lot of people may be just out of basic training, and this is their first time away from home. They might not have any family here at all, so we fill in and act as a surrogate family.
“It can be tough on them during the holidays, but nothing says Christmas more than home-baked cookies.”
The group still needs volunteer bakers and baggers, Drown said. On Sunday, the committed cookie count sat at 600 dozen.
Organizers will have a sign outside the West Chapel reading “Honk if you have cookies.” Drown’s four children — Ashley, Alyssa, Dakota and Allison — will be among the volunteers running the tasty treats back and forth from the curbside.
Chocolate chip cookies are the most popular, she said, but variety is encouraged. The assortment may include oatmeal, gingerbread, sugar, snickerdoodles — even brownies.
The only requirement: they can’t be store-bought.
“On paper, we’re below what we need,” Drown said. “But last year, was the same way. I’m hoping it turns out the same way.”
That’s when Yokota residents came through on “Crunch” day with 12,000 cookies. The YESC wound up giving some away to gate guards, law-enforcement personnel, the visitor’s center and base hospital — among other squadrons.
“We had been worried about the numbers and not getting enough,” Drown recalled. “But the community came out in droves. It was wonderful.”
There won’t be an ending time Wednesday, but YESC hopes to have all bags filled by 3 p.m. Unit first sergeants will pick them up throughout the day.
“They are very appreciative of it,” Drown said. “They don’t normally get homemade cookies. To actually have the cookies someone spent time to bake, they love it. And it lets them know we’re thinking of them.”
“Cookie Crunch” organizers get widespread support from across Yokota.
Martha Schissler, wife of Col. Mark Schissler, the 374th Airlift Wing commander, and Addy Lawler, the Yokota Officers’ Spouses Club president, assist with promotional endeavors and advertising.
The Yokota commissary donated 1,000 cookie bags — with 500 going to Yokota East Elementary School and the Before & After School Program, where students added the holiday touch by decorating them. In addition, JENS manager Micheal Bennett offered 125-minute calling cards, which are being placed in each cookie sack so servicemembers can call home for the holidays.
The “Cookie Crunch” was created in 2000 by Master Sgt. Candace Crute, a former first sergeant and YESC member who wanted to spread the holiday spirit and provide a touch of home to younger, unaccompanied airmen.
“It’s human nature to want to give around Christmas,” Drown said. “But without the constant support of volunteer bakers who keep coming back every year, we wouldn’t be able to keep this going.”
To volunteer as a bagger or donate a dozen to the cookie drive, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.