FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The Combined Federal Campaign kicked off its campaign season Oct. 2, and although the donation process is different this year, the message of giving back remains clear.

The CFC campaign season runs through Jan. 12, and rather than donating in person, people are donating online at www.setristatecfc.org to their charity of choice. Although there are still growing pains with the new online system, it's all about giving to a cause greater than self, said Lt. Col. Jon E. Baker, Lyster Army Health Clinic commander.

"It's an opportunity to support charities of your choice and to support their operating costs, and it's a way to provide assistance through these charities to help them for whatever their cause or focus is," he said. "A lot of these are small organizations. They don't generate a lot of revenue and a lot of them exist off of donations. Through donations, they're able to expand on their research and their mission."

People can visit the website where they can learn about CFC and click the donate icon to begin the process. They can sign up to donate and search various organizations they wish to donate to through the website.

This year, paper products are being phased out of the donation process in order to go to an all-online system, and although the website is still in the development stage, people can still visit to learn and see some of the charities, as well as donate, said Capt. David Preczewski, LAHC medical company commander.

"The whole purpose of going to this online process is to reduce the overhead cost," added Baker. "When you think about the printing cost in the past with all of the papers and the pledge cards and booklets that had all of the charities listed, that equates to hundreds of thousands of dollars."

The new process will cut costs and help streamline the process, allowing for an automated system that makes tracking donations and even volunteer hours an easy process, he said.

One new change is that people can also choose to donate their time through volunteerism if they aren't able to donate monetarily, said Preczewski.

"In the past, if people wanted to donate their time, CFC couldn't log that, but now you can go online, find (your charity of choice) and click the little hand (icon) and say you want to volunteer your time," he said. "If you don't have the funds available and you still want to help out the community, you can donate your time."

There are over a thousand charities people can choose to donate to through CFC. One of the main benefits of donating through CFC is that charities go through a vetting process and people can actually see where their donation dollars go.

"When you donate to a company or charity, you don't know what the overhead cost is and CFC breaks that down by each charity," said Preczewski. "CFC makes it easier for people to see where their dollars are actually going. That's one benefit to the CFC -- they do that research for you."

Out of the thousands of charities available, local charities can be donated to, as well.

"This is one way that Fort Rucker can impact the Wiregrass area," said the medical company commander.

Regardless of the charity people choose to donate to, Baker said the importance of giving is what the campaign season is all about, and this year's season is less focused on a dollar amount, and more on making sure people know that they have the opportunity to give back.

"Our goal this year is 100-percent contact," said the LAHC commander. "Here at Lyster, our goal is to touch and communicate with all of our 400-plus employees and contractors here, and make them aware of the CFC and their opportunity to give to a charity."

This year, Soldiers, government employees, retirees and contractors can give back, and since there are still growing pains with the new system, people can still donate in person. No cash donations will be taken, however, and people must donate either by check or online.

"We need to encourage people to seek this out," said Baker. "There are a lot of small organizations on Fort Rucker and people need to seek this out because this is a great opportunity. You can do this as a tax write-off, but it's about the philanthropy -- contributing to something greater than yourself."

For more information, call 255-7456.