FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 20, 2012) -- The Heart of Alabama Combined Federal Campaign kicked off its fundraising efforts Sept. 17 with an event at the Landing that showcased the different organizations that people can donate to.

The goal for this year's campaign is to raise $1.15 million for the various CFC organizations, according to Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general.

"Our goal here at Fort Rucker is to have 100 percent participation and our mission is to have 100 percent solicitation of our workforce to ensure that all of our [people] … have the opportunity to give," said Mangum during the event. "We are very lucky, fortunate and blessed … that we have the opportunity to make a difference."

The kickoff event started as different CFC organizations had tables set up for people to visit and be educated on the different services they provide.

"The tables that are set up are the different charities that are in our campaign, not all of them, but a representation of the local [charities]," said Beverly Arnold, Wiregrass area associate for CFC. "They've come today to talk to potential donors, military members and federal employees about what type of services they provide, and it gives that face-to-face opportunity for people to see where their money goes and how the charities use it."

To encourage attendees to learn about the different organizations, a game of bingo was played where each person participating received a card, and for each organization they visited and learned about, they would receive a stamp on their card. The bingo cards were then collected and names were drawn for door prizes that included T-shirts, bags and gift certificates.

But the main motivation for people seemed to be to educate themselves on where their donations go.

"A lot of times when you donate money, you want to know that the money that you're giving is going to worthy cause or something that you actually believe in," said Jarkayzio Frank, Directorate of Human Resources employee. "I know that there are certain things that I really advocate people donating to, so coming out here and being able to learn more about these organizations help me make that decision."

The theme of the campaign is "There When it Counts," which Mangum said was appropriate for both members of the CFC as well as Soldiers in the Army.

"It's kind of what we do in the Army," he said. "We are there when it counts. For the past 51 years, CFC has been providing a venue or an opportunity for caring [people] to put their money where their mouth is and contribute to charitable causes. Whether those causes are local, regional, state, national or international, the variety of causes that you can contribute to through CFC is truly astounding."

During the 51 years that the CFC has been around, it has received $7 billion in donations for its charitable organizations, said Mangum, adding that in the last year alone, almost 1 million donors donated $272 million.

"I often say that the most precious gift that a Soldier can give to his or her country is the gift of selfless service," he said. "This is also an opportunity to selflessly give to others."

People that are in need of the services that are provided by the various CFC organizations come from all walks of life, and Melinda McClendon, guest speaker for the event, was able to testify to that fact.

"I don't look like the typical recipient of any of the things that these charities here offer," said McClendon, who is also an independent marketing consultant. "By looking at me, you wouldn't know that I wear a prosthesis, you wouldn't know that I've had a series of tests last week to see if my cancer has come back, and you wouldn't know that I have a special needs son at home.

"It's a broad spectrum of people who benefit from these organizations," she continued. "We're changing lives … but we need your help."

McClendon asked that people step up to the challenge and help Fort Rucker meet the $1.15 million goal.

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