KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- Lt. Col. Lars Zetterstrom, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern, kicked off this year's Combined Federal Campaign by shooting soccer balls at a goal tended by Betzi, the friendly devil mascot from FuYball-Club Kaiserslautern.

After taking his shots, Zetterstrom said he wanted his donation to go toward the Family Support and Youth Programs, where funds go toward youth sports in Kaiserslautern. Soldiers and government civilians are known for their giving nature, Zetterstrom said, adding that he hopes this year that they will consider donating to CFC.

"Many federal employees are altruistic and want to do something better than themselves," Zetterstrom said. "This is just a small way they can give to the local community or charities around the world."

Last year, federal employees in the Kaiserslautern area contributed more than $325,000 -- more than any other Army garrison in Europe, said Antonnete Fernandez, U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern's community area project officer.

"This year we would like to go above that," Fernandez said. "CFC gives you an opportunity to give to someone less fortunate. There are hundreds of charities, from cancer care to mosquito netting for children in Africa."

CFC is an American tradition that celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The campaign runs until the beginning of December. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy launched the program as a way for federal employees to donate to causes of their choice. Each year, hundreds of thousands of dollars are donated to good causes. Employees can get pledge cards from their unit's CFC program manager or donate online, Fernandez said.

The Oct. 3 lunch time campaign kickoff was held at Pulaski Park. Garrison staff fired up a grill, serving barbequed hamburgers and hotdogs. Afterward, Zetterstrom climbed into a dunking booth. For a small donation, garrison staff took turns tossing balls to dunk Zetterstrom, Command Sgt. Maj. Gene Canada and other garrison leaders. Nearby, children got their faces pained and played on an inflatable castle.

Under soccer goal netting, Betzi -- who represents the local German "Bundesliga" soccer team, known locally as FCK -- joined garrison leaders to cut a ceremonial cake. The military community's ongoing commitment to charities, despite difficult economic times, shows something unique about those who serve in Kaiserslautern, Fernandez said.

"It means that we care," Fernandez said. "We want to make a difference in our world."

Page last updated Tue October 18th, 2011 at 09:31