Reporter’s notebook: Clovis girl earns award for volunteer service

Big things come in small packages, or so the old saying goes.

Maggie Fazenbaker, a 12-year-old former Clovis resident, has spent the better part of the last year assembling “care packages” for U.S. soldiers serving in war zones. She includes items such as toiletries, books and other personal use things to make a soldier’s life a little easier.

Fazenbaker began her care package drive, called “Operation Soldier Smiles” because her father received a care package from his childhood church while he was fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom. “He appreciated the support,” she said.

Fazenbaker, who now lives in Alamogordo, was recently awarded The Prudential Spirit of Community Award in Washington, D.C. for her volunteer service.

Fazenbaker was honored at a ceremony held at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History attended by former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

“He’s a really nice guy,” said Fazenbaker, who received a $1,000 award and a silver medallion.

Fazenbaker said she has sent 1,139 “care packages” and more than 4,500 books to U.S. troops serving in the war zone.

Collecting the needed items at drop boxes around town, Fazenbaker assembles the packages with the help of family and friends. They drive them more than 100 miles to the Fort Bliss Deployment Center in El Paso.

Fazenbaker said she plans to continue her efforts until the war is over.

Reporter’s notebook was compiled by CNJ staff writer Tonya Garner. Suggested items may be mailed to Managing Editor Rick White at P.O. Box 1689, Clovis 88102. The e-mail address is: rick_white@link.freedom.com