WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 23, 2008) - The Combined Federal Campaign, which kicked off Sept. 1 and runs through Dec. 15, is the world's largest annual workplace charity drive.

CFC raises millions of dollars each year to assist some 4,000 charities through donations from federal employees and servicemembers that support eligible non-profit organizations that provide health and human service benefits throughout the world.

Some installations have already launched their CFC campaign for this year, but Secretary of the Army Pete Geren officially opens the National Capital Area CFC campaign Oct. 2 at 9 a.m. with an event at the Pentagon auditorium open to Army employees and Soldiers.

Clifford Lovejoy, the CFC manager for the Army's NCA campaign, said the goal in the area is to raise $2.95 million and he has 34 campaign managers working with their respective commands to help raise the money.

"Now we have more than 4,000 charities within CFC and what I have found is that no matter who you are or where you are in life, if you have a situation where you need some help, there is no doubt in my mind that one of those 4,000 charities will be able to help you," Lovejoy said.

Case in point is Sgt. 1st Class Jake Keeslar and his wife Vanessa. Jake lost both his legs in Iraq to an improvised explosive device in 2006. While Jake was deployed, Vanessa was living at their homebase of Fort Wainwright, Alaska. When she received the news that her husband had been injured and was at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, she came to Washington, D.C.

"One of the charities that helped me most was when I first arrived here in a city I'd never been to before," Vanessa said. "There was a program that offered rental cars free of charge, so the fund gave me a rental car for almost four months while my husband was an in-patient."

Today, the Keeslars are stationed in the district and Jake serves as the senior noncommissioned officer in charge of the Warrior Transition Units. Vanessa was offered an opportunity to create a new program which will provide respite care and services for family members and care-givers of injured Soldiers.

"The organization does a lot of different things, provides hotel rooms, apartments for Soldiers while they're in transition; we have different outings and we have a mentoring program to help as they are transitioning back into the real world," she said.

Maj. James Marrotta of the National Guard Bureau credits one of the CFC charities with saving his life. Diagnosed with a non-Hodgkins lymphoma, Marrotta said one of the treatments available was chemotherapy, but it only had a 35-percent chance of making him go into remission.

"I'm in full remission now because of an experimental treatment I went through at the National Institute of Health, which has a 98-percent remission success rate," he said. "I give that charity and all the charities that fund cancer research the credit they deserve."

"A lot of people donate money, but they don't necessarily donate locally," Marrotta said. "People should look at the catalog and donate to whatever local charities they're interested in, there's something for everyone, from animal rescue to food kitchens to supplying coats for needy children and schools."

Federal employees and servicemembers may give to the charities of their choice via automatic payroll deduction or even a one-time cash or check gift.