The CFC lifeline

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- It is that time again; the 6-week period of time which started Tuesday when the fund-raising drive for the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) kicked off. Key-workers, in a frenzy, drop off booklets and receipts. The booklets list who you can give your money to and the receipts prove to the IRS that you gave your money to a charity. One hundred percent contact is the catch-phrase that seemed to be born of the CFC storm. I can't say that I donated money every year since I have been in the military, but I can say that I did donate most years. The years that I did donate chronicled the lives of me, my family, and my friends.

The first years that I donated money reflected my naivete, my youth, and the lack of any real unpleasantness touching my life. My main concerns were about saving the endangered animals and preserving the rainforests. I was thrilled when one of the charities sent me a thank you note and a bumper stick with a green bear on it. Someone was personally thanking me and I was tickled. Not long after I started giving to CFC, we started a family. I now had children to think about.

Within my circle of friends and co-workers with children, the talk was about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). I even heard through the grapevine that my technical school roommate had lost a child to SIDS. The tales of caution, the worry of what if it happened to my baby, and the grief that I knew my roommate had gone through--there was no doubt who I would be donating my money to the next time the CFC key-workers came around. My children continued to blossom, although it became apparent that all parents were not as blessed as my husband, Tom, and I were.

A close friend of ours had a child diagnosed with autism. Our friend and his family were devastated. Any previous knowledge I had of autism was distant and only what I saw on TV documentaries. I had a close look at how a child's disability can strain a family. Then it seemed as if people all around us had children being diagnosed with this particularly frightening malady. Once again CFC was my way to help; I donated to an autism research center. Then life stepped closer to my family's inner circle in the form of cancer.

Two of our extended family members were diagnosed with different types of cancer.

Cancer is a viscous and exceptionally cruel disease. You just don't know when it will show up, how invasive it will be, or who will succumb. I gave my donations to another research center; this time to find a cure for cancer. I hope the cure is found soon, but time doesn't wait and once again circumstances of life shaped my focus and priorities. The change in focus evolved with my husband's deployment to Iraq.

When Tom deployed, I knew he was the best person for the job and I was confident that he would do great things. I was excited for him and worried for both of us. My kids and I were very fortunate; he came home. There were a few that Tom trained and served with that did not come home, one being a Master Sergeant with a wife and newborn baby.

This year I will be donating a portion of my CFC donations to help those families left behind and those whose long goals and dreams have been altered by the circumstance of war and death. The other portion of my donation will be given to the Air Force Sergeants Association's Airmen Memorial Museum.

I don't know what the next years of my life have in store, but I know I have a wonderful outlet for all those unpleasant things that creep up. I may not be able to teach autistic children, cure cancer, or start my own museum, but I can contribute to "the cause."

I can make a difference through the venue of the Combined Federal Campaign.