FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 18, 2014) -- The Heart of Alabama Combined Federal Campaign kicked off this year's fundraising effort at The Landing Sept. 15 with an exposition of some of the charities donors can contribute to in 2014.

Over 25 charities were on hand to answer questions and explain to potential donors and CFC volunteers what they do and how the donations help them.

Col. Gary. A. Wheeler, Lyster Army Health Clinic commander and Local Federal Coordinating Committee member, was there to thank the volunteers and stress the importance of this year's CFC campaign.

"All of us are blessed to have the opportunity to be in service of Aviators and their Families," he said. "This is an opportunity to bring the community in and give back to the charitable organizations that support those who need help. I think all of us are in a position to be grateful to be in the uniform and in that role it is very important to give back to the community."

The Heart of Alabama CFC runs through Nov. 14, according to Beverly Arnold, Heart of Alabama CFC director.

"One thing we are focusing on this year is informing people about online giving," she said. "Last year, My Pay became available to (accept donations) to CFC."

The CFC link for My Pay is on the main menu under Pay Changes, after logging in.

"Another option with giving online is the new Universal Giving program, where you can give to a local charity that might not be located in the Heart of Alabama campaign area," she added. "There are about 20,000 charities available through CFC. Those charities include local, national and international charities. Every donor gets to choose what charity they want to give to."

"As a federal employee, you can donate through payroll deduction. Charities have expenses throughout the year, and a one-time cash donation, although nice, will not help them set a yearly budget," she added.

"As you walk around, you get a chance to see those organizations in the Wiregrass area that we can give back to," Wheeler said. "So, to have the opportunity for Soldiers and civilians to interface with those people is tremendous."

And many representatives from the various charities were thankful for the chance to meet with Soldiers, Family members and civilian employees from the post.

"This event is a great way for people in the local community to learn about us," said Jo Brooks, SOS Animal Shelter treasurer. "We run entirely on donations, so the CFC is a big deal to us."

Taylor Wheeler, Wiregrass United Way area manager, agreed. "It's just a more hands-on, personal experience being able to come talk to people at this event. Soldiers and federal employees not only get to talk with us, but also some of the agencies we serve."