Family-run nonprofit distributes care packages

Soldiers assigned to the 1st Armored Division receive care packages from Operation Soldier Smiles moments before deploying from Fort Bliss Friday. OSS is a nonprofit organization that has been delivering care packages to service members for 13 years. Photo by Sgt. Kris Bonet, 24th Press Camp Headquarters.

Soldiers assigned to the 1st Armored Division receive care packages from Operation Soldier Smiles moments before deploying from Fort Bliss Friday. OSS is a nonprofit organization that has been delivering care packages to service members for 13 years. Photo by Sgt. Kris Bonet, 24th Press Camp Headquarters.

By Sgt. Kris Bonet, 24th Press Camp Headquarters;

(El Paso, Texas Nov. 9, 2017)

A World War II veteran brought care packages and bid farewell to Soldiers assigned to the 1st Armored Division as they prepared to deploy here Friday.

Retired 1st Sgt. Charles “Sarge” Biggs and his wife, Sue Biggs, are volunteers with Operation Soldier Smiles, a nonprofit organization that has shared approximately 17,000 care packages with service members over the past 13 years.

“This was a totally lucked out situation,” said Annette Fazenbaker, a member of OSS. “We didn’t know they were deploying. We bring these (care packages) down here about three times a year.”

OSS managed to distribute 462 care packages, which contain books, toiletries, candy and more. This was the second time they have had the opportunity to meet a deploying unit and bid them farewell as they brought the care packages. The first opportunity was 10 years ago.

The Fazenbaker family’s eldest daughter, Margaret Fazenbaker, started the organization in 2004 as a school project, and it became a family tradition. Currently, their youngest daughter, Madeleine Fazenbaker, helps them continue the charity.

“What keeps us going? Ask that gentleman right there,” said retired Air Force Maj. Paul Fazenbaker, as he pointed at Biggs. “Guys like him are one of the things that keeps us going.”

Biggs enlisted in 1945 when he was 16 years old. He served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War as a blacksmith for the cavalry and a paratrooper.

“I’m one of the last horse Soldiers,” laughed Biggs.

“Take care of yourselves and make sure you get back,” said Biggs, as he said goodbye to the departing unit.

To contact Operation Soldier Smiles and the Fazenbaker family, call (575) 434-5615 or email operationSoldiersmiles@gmail.com.