JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- When Master Sgt. Brent Riffel, 62nd Maintenance Squadron, volunteered to be McChord Field's loaned executive for this year's Combined Federal Campaign on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, he had no idea what he was getting himself into -- in the best possible way.

"It's really opened my eyes since I have taken this role on to truly differentiate between wants and needs in life," he said at the CFC's celebration at The Harmon Brewery and Eatery in Tacoma last week.

He wasn't "voluntold" to be one of four temporary employees from federal agencies to help with the campaign. In fact, he went through an interview process to be the Air Force's representative for the CFC.

He did it because he's the type of person who will help if he can. But while he was volunteering at a food bank with other loaned executives from Lewis Main/North, Madigan Army Medical Center and the U.S. Postal Service, he saw a pair of little girls that reminded him of his own three daughters. The difference was these girls had no idea where their next meal was going to come from.

"That's what crushed me," he said.

From now until December his job will be to make contact with federal employees, Soldiers and Airmen to encourage them to give to charitable organizations across the country.

In fact, the CFC is the only charity allowed to enter federal workplaces. This year is its 50th birthday, and organizers are hoping to use that as an opportunity to put a new spin on what it means to give.
"We're trying to bring people out to a fun environment (and) give that whole overarching feel that giving can be fun," Madigan Healthcare System Commander Col. Dallas Homas, this year's CFC chair, said.

That was the idea behind the Oct. 28 party at The Harmon, and the business's owners set a good example. In addition to hosting the event, which included bands in the evening, they donated 10 percent of the day's profits.

The celebration had another purpose, though -- to remind prospective givers that the CFC is a great way to stay engaged in the world around them.

"Know that it is not a way to get into somebody's pockets but a way to get involved in your community," CFC South Puget Sound Director Melanie Manista-Rushforth said.

The campaign offers literally thousands of different organizations to which federal employees can easily send a portion of their paycheck. Manista-Rushfort pointed out that whether they're sending their money to a food bank down the street or one in the community where they grew up, donors have the ability to select exactly what type of organization their money goes to and have it easily deducted straight from their paycheck.

For loaned executive Deedee Emmett, a U.S. Postal Service operations support specialist, the campaign isn't just changing her views on what it is to give. She's also getting a new idea about what it means to receive.

"I think people were more grateful than I expected them to be," she said, thinking of an example from the trip to the food bank.

She thought people would always take the maximum amount of whatever they were being offered. Instead she was surprised to see they were taking only as much as they needed. It was something she thought was good for her to see -- and that many givers might not be aware of.

"Unless they've benefitted in the past, I don't think they really know what that person that's receiving feels," she said.

The CFC has received high dollar amounts the past few years in spite of a down economy, but for those most passionate about the campaign that's no reason to get complacent.

"I think when times are tough is when it's the most important time to give," Manista-Rushforth said.

Marisa Petrich: