By Sarah J. Schmidt, USAG Schinnen Public AffairsOctober 31, 2008
SCHINNEN, Netherlands (October 2008) -- A wide grin spreads across Olivia Knight's face as she rounds the paddock with her training pony at a local stable not far from U.S. Army Garrison Schinnen, the Netherlands.
She's enjoying an afternoon riding lesson, reins tight in hand, as her proud mom watches from the fence. It's a picture-perfect moment, but a few months ago, things weren't so perfect.
Earlier this year, 9-year-old Olivia spent weeks in and out of the hospital, suffering from symptoms that were eventually diagnosed as diabetes. Once diagnosed, things happened rapidly. Doctors rushed Olivia 180 miles to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, near Ramstein, Germany, leaving her parents scrambling for travel and lodging to accommodate their family of five.
That's when the Landstuhl Fisher House stepped in with arrangements that allowed the whole family to travel with Olivia. "We were under a lot of stress during that time, but Fisher House just took all of that away," remembers Olivia's mom, Rochelle Knight, a former civilian employee at USAG Schinnen. Olivia's dad, Air Force Lt. Col. Jim Knight, serves at Joint Forces Command in Brunssum, Netherlands.
Fisher House is one of more than 2,000 charities participating in this year's Combined Federal Campaign, which is an annual coordinated effort to raise funds on behalf of participating charities via workplace solicitations of federal U.S. employees. Since the 1960s, CFC has given federal employees the opportunity to make charitable donations through payroll deductions.
"Because it coordinates the fundraising efforts of various charitable organizations, CFC also relieves federal employees of multiple solicitations in the workplace that can be distracting and overwhelming," said Sgt. James Dillabaugh, USAG Schinnen's CFC Coordinator. "CFC ensures that employees are solicited only once a year for their charitable dollars in the workplace."
CFC represents one of the main sources of funding for charities, suhc as Fisher House, that support servicemembers and their families. Prior to their family's medical emergency, the Knights thought Fisher House only existed to serve wounded troops. "I think that's probably what pops into most people's minds when they think of military charities," Mrs. Knight admitted.
But after experiencing Fisher House first hand and realizing their charitable services extend to a great many military families, especially overseas, Mrs. Knight said she's more proactive in supporting those organizations through CFC and other fundraising efforts.
Last year's CFC Campaign raised more than $15.7 million for participating charities. CFC raises money for national and international charities, plus the overseas Family Support and Youth Programs. This FSYP option allows servicemembers to earmark money for their youth and family programs on their installations. More than $700,000 went to programs on overseas military bases last year.
To select the FSYP option this year, simply look for the box labeled "FSYP" on a CFC pledge form, then indicate the amount of your donation in the blank next to that box. "This is a great way to improve quality of life programs at your own installation," noted Dillabaugh. "This gives us a lot of flexibility to provide new programs to the local community, and it allows people to see the direct results of what they're contributing."
The CFC Campaign continues through Dec. 3. To make a contribution, contact a unit CFC representative.