FORT BRAGG, N.C. - When Spc. William Haubris, 20, returned from Iraq Aug. 6, he and other single Soldiers of the 18th Fires Brigade had packages waiting for them.

The packages, given by Fayetteville Cares, were designed to prevent a Soldier from having to go shopping within 48 hours of returning from deployment, said Joanne Chavonne.

Chavonne currently serves as program coordinator and treasurer of Fayetteville Cares, an organization designed to provide support to Soldiers and their Families before, during and after deployments.

The packages contained a toothbrush and toothpaste; shampoo and conditioner; and sandwich meat and bread, Haubris said.

"I thought it was really nice that people treat you with respect and try to help you out as much as they can," he said of Fayetteville Cares.

Of the 36 Soldiers who returned from Iraq with the 18th Fires Brigade, six were single Soldiers, said Sharon Rice, Family readiness support assistant with the 18th Fires Brigade.

Rice said the brigade initially contacted Operation Homefront, another military-support organization that, in turn, put the brigade in contact with Fayetteville Cares.

"We were thrilled because our Soldiers had been over there for 15 months and they were exhausted," Rice said.

Fayetteville Cares was formed in 2007, Chavonne said and plans to continue to engage in projects that support the military.

Operation Holiday Cheer will send packages to deployed Soldiers during the holidays in December, Chavonne said.

Last year, Fayetteville Cares hosted Boots and Booties: the World's Largest Military Baby Shower, an event that put Fayetteville on the map and in the pages of Time magazine, which hailed it as the America's most pro-military town.

For that distinction, Fayetteville Cares received recognition from Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. George W. Casey Jr.

"Fayetteville has always been way ahead of the curve when it comes to taking care of our Soldiers and our Families. Families are the strength of our Soldiers and Soldiers are the strength of our Army," Gen. Casey said during a visit to Fort Bragg in March.

Fort Bragg is the first installation on which Haubris has served since joining the Army in 2007 and said he is impressed by the support of the community.

For more information on Fayetteville Cares and its upcoming projects, visit its Web site at www.fayettevillecares.org.

Page last updated Mon August 24th, 2009 at 18:04