Giving together: Offutt sets bar high

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- "We have three 'kick-off' events lined up for the base," said Maj. Eric Barton, Offutt's CFC coordinator. "The first one actually didn't even take place on base. It was down at Lincoln, for our folks working there while Offutt's runway is being repaired. The second one is Friday [today], for the medical group." 

The big event, however, will be on Monday, according to the major. "For the rest of the base, including our hosted units, we'll be starting the CFC drive with a chili cook-off on Monday at the fire station."

Representatives of some local charities will be on hand at the Monday event to describe the work they do for Offutt and the local community, he said.

Many local charities derive the majority of their funding from the six-week campaign. Last year the Offutt Youth Center (CFC code 8022) received $12,000 in funds from the CFC. That money was used to lower the cost recreational and sports programs for children of military members.

Another Offutt charity that derives funds from the CFC is the Reconnaissance Crews Booster Club, (CFC code 8918), which received $9,000 to help fund a yearly Christmas party for underprivileged youths.

The chili cook off starts at 11:30 a.m. and continues to 1:30 p.m.

Offutt's goal for 2006, $400,000, is significantly higher than the $300,000 goal the base set in 2005. That year the base beat its goal by $15,000, a sign, according to the major, that Offutt has more to offer to charities.

Last year's CFC drive reflected only a portion of Offutt's charitable giving; many thousands of dollars were also donated to the Hurricane Katrina and Asian tsunami relief effort.

Although the $400,000 goal may seem ambitious, Major Barton said, it should be easy to reach, if enough people participate.

"If each of the 7,000 military and civilian members of the Offutt community donated the cost of a single fast-food meal, we would easily beat our goal," he said. "If we put our heads - and wallets - together, this can be the best CFC year ever."

Last year, federal employees and servicemembers throughout the United States donated a record-setting $268 million to the CFC. Contributions can be in cash, check or by payroll deduction.

The CFC was established in 1961 and is the largest workplace charity campaign in the country. This annual fall fund-raising drive allows nearly 4 million federal employees and military personnel to contribute to thousands of local and national nonprofit organizations.

On average, one in four federal employees or their dependents will benefit from the CFC charities this year, according to CFC officials. Donors may designate which charities receive their money by filling out a pledge card.

The CFC Web site is at