PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. - The annual charity season began with the Combined Federal Campaign kick-off ceremony here Oct. 18.

The Combined Federal Campaign, which is the only campaign authorized in the federal work place, celebrates "50 Years of Caring" this year and covers about 1,500 charities in the United States.

CFC is also the world's largest and most successful annual workplace charity campaign, with more than 200 CFC campaigns throughout the country and internationally to help to raise millions of dollars each year. Pledges made by federal civilian, postal and military donors during the campaign season support eligible non-profit organizations that provide health and human service benefits throughout the world.

Over the last 50 years, the CFC has raised nearly $7 billion to help combat disease, protect our planet, feed the hungry, and lift up individuals and communities at home and around the world, wrote President Barack Obama in a letter to the federal workforce.

During the Presidio's ceremony, Garrison Commander Col. Joel J. Clark spoke briefly to the audience about how important it is to have many charities from which to choose and how important it is that every employee and service member has the opportunity to donate.

Carly Galarneau, a representative from Family Service Agency, explained that although FSA is a small agency, it offers a 24-hour helpline that supports more than 100 languages.

She shared a story about how "close to home" her organization reaches. She said that after a presentation to a local military organization, she was approached by a service member who said his daughter was being bullied at school and that the girl "didn't know what to do."

Galarneau said she was able to take a few minutes to talk to the man to offer him initial advice, which he followed up later with a phone call to the help line.

Another presenter, John Bell, from Hope Rehabilitation Services, said that his organization is known for mostly janitorial-type jobs for people with developmental disabilities who would otherwise not be able to be valued and productive members of their communities.

He explained that while some Hope Rehabilitation employees can work a full 40 hours a week, some might be able to work only one hour a week. "It's not the amount that matters, it's the paycheck," he said, explaining the importance of the sense of accomplishment for the workers. "Getting a paycheck is a big deal to all of us."

But, as with many businesses in the area, Hope Rehabilitation also started facing fewer working opportunities, Bell said.

So, rather than cut services, Bell said Hope looked to the future and saw green. Not "green" as in money, but "green" as in an environmentally responsible future.

The organization expanded to recycling mattresses, recycling clothing and collecting eWaste--more than 200 tons last year.

The final organization represented was Puppies Behind Bars. A video that focused on "Dog Tags," explained that Puppies Behind Bars trains prison inmates to raise service dogs for the disabled and explosive-detection canines for law enforcement. The puppies live in prison with their puppy-raisers from the age of 8 weeks to 18 months. As the puppies mature into well-loved, well-behaved dogs, their raisers learn what it means to contribute to society rather than take from it.

The "Dog Tags," initiative, which assists wounded Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans, focuses on training dogs to be companions to military veterans: Service dogs for those who've served us.

"Since we specialize in dogs for veterans with post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, we also teach our dogs special commands for wounded warriors with these conditions," the organization's website says, adding that the dogs are trained to perform over 80 service dog commands.

"All our dogs can open and close doors, turn lights on and off, dial 911 on a phone, carry shopping bags, do laundry, and bring items to you," the site says. "In addition, we teach them how to find your car in a crowded parking lot; how to look both ways before you enter a room; how to "watch my back"; and how to stop people approaching, if their approach is making you nervous."

According to a CFC release, prior to the 1950s, on-the-job fund raising in the federal workplace was an "uncontrolled free-for-all." 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.

The CFC season runs through Nov. 29 here.