PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. Aca,!A? The annual charity season began at the Presidio with a Combined Federal Campaign kick-off ceremony for key-leaders at the Tin Barn Oct. 19.

During the event, Presidio Garrison Commander Col. Darcy A. Brewer spoke briefly to the audience about how important it is to get community members to review the campaign book so they'll see all the worthy charities that need assistance and in doing so will likely find some they recognize.

CFC, which is the only campaign authorized in the federal work place, is known to be the most inclusive workplace giving campaign in the world. The number of participating charities is estimated at more than 20,000 charities in the United States, with about 2,500 organizations included in each local campaign. They range from budding community groups to large, well-known charities, according to the campaign's website.

Also, the fund-raising event is the world's largest and most successful annual workplace giving campaign according to the website. Each year, more than 300 CFC campaigns run throughout the country and internationally.

The theme of this year's Combined Federal Campaign is "Changing lives through giving."

Pledges made by federal civilian, postal and military donors during the fall campaign season support eligible non-profit organizations that provide health and human service benefits throughout the world.

On average in the past, one in four federal employees or their dependents benefitted from the CFC charities, according to CFC officials. Donors may designate which charities receive their money by filling out a pledge card.

Local organizations

In addition to covering national charities, the campaign comes very close to home, because it even benefits agencies in the Presidio community.

Locally, a few organizations that receive a small amount of CFC money from the campaign are Better Opportunity for Single Servicemembers (known as BOSS), Army Family Action Plan program, Army Family Team Building program, Army Community Service Food Locker, and Youth and School-Age Services. Of the money donated to these Presidio organizations, all the funds go to the cause, as zero percent is used for administrative costs.

Presently, the AFAP counts on donations to pay for the building, the food and whatever other unforeseen expenses the conference incurs, AFAP program manager Tim Clouse said regarding the Presidio's Annual Armed Forces Action Plan Training and Planning Conference.

He explained that the AFAP "is limited to using Non-Appropriated Funds for our events, so we must constantly hope for munificent benefactors. ... This year we have a tightened budget and cannot afford anything other than the barest of necessities. ... We are limited by our imagination and the amount of money that we have."

Additionally, Clouse said that the Army Emergency Relief Emergency Food Locker has been receiving a few thousand dollars a year from donations to aid and assist service members with food when they are not able to provide for themselves for any variety of reason.

The mission of the CFC is to promote and support philanthropy through a program that is employee focused, cost-efficient, and effective in providing all federal employees the opportunity to improve the quality of life for all.

The Monterey-Santa Cruz Counties 2009 CFC campaign received pledges totaling $566,407 from federal and postal employees and military personnel. Of that more than half a million dollars, the Presidio community's portion was more than $254,000.

The Presidio of Monterey's CFC season runs through Nov. 30.

History of CFC

Prior to the 1950s, on-the-job fund raising in the federal workplace was an "uncontrolled free-for-all," and designations of charities were not allowed, according to a CFC release. Even with the frequency of on-the-job solicitations, total receipts for charitable causes that were worthy of employee support were minor. In many cases, employees donated their pocket change.

In 1964, the campaign's website says, the first "combined" campaigns, officially called "Combined Federal Campaigns," or "CFC" were conducted as experiments in six cities, consolidating all drives into one. The result was a substantial increase in contributions, ranging from 20 percent to 125 percent, and a highly favorable response within the federal community: agency managers were pleased with having to deal only with a once-a-year effort; federal employees responded with favor to the single solicitation.

The evolution of this is that now, charity solicitations in federal work places follow strict guidance and are under the control of the annual event.

And because the CFC is the only authorized charity payroll deduction, people may choose to spread out their donations throughout the year if they don't want to or cannot pay by check immediately.