CFC: The impact of donations

  • Published
  • By Kristen Allen, 55th Wing Public Affairs

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. - Those who have served in a branch of the military or federal government agency for at least a few years generally know about the annual Combined Federal Campaign that kicks off every fall.

The CFC provides military and federal government personnel the opportunity to donate money or their time to non-profit organizations that provide health and human service benefits throughout the world.

The campaign makes it easy to donate money through payroll deductions. Even though you know it’s going toward a cause you support, do you know the impact your donations have on your community?

The CFC was around long before I began my active-duty career in the Navy, and I was excited when I found out about the program. It was an incredibly easy way to support various charities and causes I believed in, and I really didn’t have to think about it beyond filling out a form for the payroll deduction. I even volunteered as a CFC key worker during my last tour on active duty.

Things have changed a bit since my active-duty days in that you can now volunteer your time to an organization. While I was serving, I was already volunteering for an organization that received CFC funds, so I got a firsthand look at what that money really means to a program.

I volunteered at an equine therapeutic riding program for three-and-a-half years while at my last duty station. Even though I was a volunteer, the program truly helped me deal with various issues I faced from my time in service.

The organization mostly helped children and young adults with varying physical and mental disabilities. While I was there, they also started an active duty and veteran program to help those battling physical and mental wounds from their military service.

Therapeutic riding programs are not cheap or easy to keep running. Horses cost money, from feed to grooming equipment to veterinary care to the saddles, bridles and other equipment and structures necessary for riding and stabling them. The tack can cost even more than normal in some cases because it may require special modifications to accommodate various rider disabilities.

Volunteering with this program gave me the opportunity to see the true impact of donations. Aside from all the things needed to care for the horses and have them ready for riders, I saw how this organization changed the lives of its participants.

I watched numerous riders facing all sorts of difficulties with everyday tasks many of us take for granted make progress throughout their riding sessions. I saw those with speech difficulties learn to say different words and sometimes heard them speak their first words. I saw children who had various physical issues gain more mobility and watched some take their first steps.

My favorite part of every single riding session was seeing the faces of the participants light up when they saw their horses and their smiles during the therapy sessions. It was also amazing to see their parents smile, laugh and sometimes cry tears of joy when their child did something they weren’t sure they’d ever be able to do.

I had the great privilege of being a small part of so many lives and seeing the impact just this one program had in its community. That made me consider all the non-profits that are part of the CFC and the reach and effect each of them has in their various communities, across the nation, or around the world.

I will always advocate for people to make donations through CFC if they can afford it. More than that, I implore you to go out into your community and volunteer at one of these organizations so you can see what this campaign truly means to the programs that receive donations. You’re not just donating money or time – you are changing lives.