Organizers of an Iowa non-profit group that sends home-baked cookies to American troops stationed overseas are looking for donations to keep the effort going.

The Cookie Crumbs project started in Iowa a decade ago with a Council Bluffs woman, Abby Crawford, who baked more than 900 cookies to send to the troops. The program’s Nick Nickotero says it’s continued to grow.

“We have 180 bakers on three baking teams and to date, since 2007, we have sent to our deployed troops overseas 1,112,000 homemade cookies.”

Cookie Crumbs is the Iowa chapter for the national Treat the Troops program that has its roots in South Carolina in the 1990s.

Nickotero, who served in Vietnam with the U.S. Marines, says they get frequent letters from service men and women overseas thanking them for the care packages.

Besides the cookies, the packages include things like card games, frisbies, small flashlights, batteries, stationary, and personal hygiene items.

“A lot of these items are items that are free, you can pick up when you visit a motel, if you have leftover shampoos or lotions or things the troops can’t get when they’re deployed, especially to Iraq or Afghanistan,” he says. “Their store is not down on the corner.”

For bakers, cookies can be made ahead of time and frozen for transport.

“Certain times of year, we can’t send chocolate chips because it gets up to 120-degrees in these foreign countries, but right now, chocolate chip cookies are welcome,” Nickotero says. “Cookies that are about three inches in diameter. We bag them in six to a twist-tie baggie which makes it real easy for us to ship and we can get more cookies in the boxes that way.”

The Cookie Crumbs group meets the second Tuesday of each month at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Council Bluffs.

If you don’t have time to bake cookies or to gather other items, Nicotero says checks are welcome to help with shipping costs. Care packages cost $18 per box and the group sends up to 70 boxes per month. Since launching in Iowa in 2007, he says they’ve had $172,000 in shipping costs donated.

By Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic