WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii - Anyone who has seen an iPhone commercial has heard that there's an "app," or application, for just about anything - from choosing a restaurant to checking surf conditions.

But what about saving the polar bears, stopping world hunger and championing accuracy in the media' Well, for that, there's the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC).

The CFC is the world's largest and most successful annual workplace charity campaign, according to the CFC Web site. The campaign started out small, offering federal civilians, postal workers and service members 23 charitable organizations to support in 1969.

Today, more than 20,000 estimated nonprofit organizations are involved in CFC.

The 2009 CFC runs from Sept. 14 through Nov. 9, and this year's theme is "Your Gift Changes Lives."

Area CFC project officers and key people are getting the chance to see just what kind of changes their donations make at several Oahu CFC kickoffs.

The Marines, this year's local CFC executive agent, held the overall Hawaii-Pacific Area CFC kickoff, Sept. 14, at Camp Smith, and the Army is holding its own kickoff event, today, at Schofield Barracks.

These events are a chance to "talk story," to raise awareness and to give a face to the many organizations in need.

"Everybody here has a heart that goes beyond themselves," said Diana Poteet, a River of Life Mission representative attending the Hawaii-Pacific Area kickoff. "When you go to an event like this, you just feel it, and it's a really good feeling. It gives you faith in the world."

The CFC kickoff is also a time to reflect and re-evaluate personal actions, according to Col. John Broadmeadow, deputy commander, U.S. Marine Corps Pacific.

"We are fortunate in being employed by the government of the greatest country on earth, and the CFC gives us the chance to share some of our good fortune with others," Broadmeadow said in his remarks at Camp Smith. "I know times are tough for people all over, which is why your efforts on behalf of the Combined Federal Campaign are so vital."

The sentiment that "times are tough" echoed among the more than 70 local nonprofits organizations present at the Hawaii-Pacific Area kickoff.

Louana Kassebeer is a breast and cervical cancer case worker at the Waimanalo Health Center in Waimanalo. She's worked there for the past 16 years, providing Native Hawaiians on the Windward side access to medical care and preventative health programs.

"A lot of [our clients] have been laid off ... they don't have insurance because they don't qualify ... we put them on a sliding-fee scale, and they get seen by the doctor," Kassebeer said.

"Our program has been so successful, but when we don't have money, then we have to stop," she added.

Waimanalo Health Center is only one of the many nonprofits feeling the sting of the economic downturn.

The Hawaii Foodbank serves more than 131,000 people on Oahu, alone, through 215 member agencies that use the foodbank. Based on reports from these member agencies, the foodbank estimates that it is serving at least double the amount of people served in 2008.

"Because of the economy, we're seeing more families using the Hawaii Foodbank. More children are going hungry, and kids are going to school without food," said Kim Bartenstein, food drive manager, Hawaii Foodbank. "[Families] have to make choices, and the choices are either they're going to pay rent or they're going to eat."
Bartenstein stressed the importance of giving, not just during the holidays, but year-round.

"At the foodbank, for every $10 that gets donated to us, we can distribute 25 meals, so we get a lot of bang for our buck. That coffee that you have during the week ... maybe it's not so important as helping someone, your neighbor, eat and have a meal," she added.

The many nonprofits at the Hawaii-Pacific Area kickoff gave attendees something to think about and share with fellow employees.

"I saw a lot of different booths for groups I didn't even know existed, like the 'Walk-Run for Hunger' by the River of Life Mission," said Staff Sgt. Caseatta Nelson-Revell, a CFC unit project officer for the 8th Theater Sustainment Command and 25th Infantry Division.

"I'm in a great position where not only do I get to talk to all of our key people that are going to be running the CFC," explained Nelson-Revell, "but when I get ready to hand out donor ballots ... I get to give people info about the different booths that were here."

Each Army organization has dedicated representatives to answer questions and assist interested donors in participating in the 2009 campaign.

To learn more about the CFC and join the cause in changing lives - locally, nationally or across the world, visit www.cfc-hawaii.org or contact your unit representative.

Why donate to the CFC'
Aca,!AcConvenience and ease: Employees can contribute via payroll deduction, check or cash
Aca,!AcChoice: Employees choose who they want to give to and how much they want to give
Aca,!AcConfidence: CFC is fully accountable and audited annually. Plus, donors can review organizations to see how much of each donation goes directly to the cause and how much goes to administrative costs.