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NEWS | Oct. 9, 2012

I give to the CFC because my brother deserves it

By Airman 1st Class R. Alex Durbin 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The annual Combined Federal Campaign is the largest workplace charity campaign in the United States, and raises millions of dollars each year to support charities worldwide.

With the CFC donation season in full swing, I can't help but remember why I give. As a child, I lost my younger brother, Matthew, to a battle against childhood leukemia.

The experience of losing my brother, and best friend, changed the course of my entire life. The opportunity to give money to an organization that provides hope for those in a similar position means almost more to me than I could put into words.

I was first introduced to the CFC in the infancy of my Air Force career. It was a mild, October evening at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. I sat in my dorm's day room, packed in with my 50 fellow trainees, the two CFC representatives, and my flight's Military Training Instructor leering from the corner. I could feel the breath of the trainee behind me on the back of my freshly-shaven head as the Airman at the front of the room gave his presentation on the CFC.

With the fatigue of the day weighing heavily on me, and the idea of a few moments of relaxation in dayroom, I was not prepared to comprehend the scope of what was being explained. I couldn't completely understand what the Senior Airmen had to say, and I had no idea how huge the CFC is.

The presentation intrigued me. Having no relatives in federal service, I had never previously heard of the CFC. I found it amazing to see a program so devoted to giving.

I have always considered myself a charitable person, but I have not always had the opportunity to give so easily available. I have always given a few dollars to the Salvation Army as they stood outside grocery stores during the holiday season, or to the charity at the checkout line. However, I have never actively sought out charities that are personal to me.

Once the presentation was over and the brochures were handed out, I flipped through its pages, scanning it's thousands of charities for one that interested me.

After a few minutes I found it, the Childhood Leukemia Foundation. Next to the name was a brief description, along important information to assure me this foundation was of the highest caliber required of all the CFC-sponsored charities.

In between the charity code and tax information, the brochure informed me the Childhood Leukemia Foundation's mission is to educate, empower and raise awareness, and the necessary funds to support programs that benefit children living with Leukemia. Their programs improve health literacy, increase self-esteem and give hope to cancer victims.

I knew immediately this charity was deserving of my donation. Although I had never heard of this specific charity, the cause struck a chord resonating back to my childhood.

I filled out the form, and felt pride in helping someone in need, in the little way I could. I marked the monthly allotment box, filled in the amount and handed in the form.

Now, when I look at my Leave and Earning Statement each month, and see my allotment for the CFC taken out, I don't see the dollar sign. I see the look on my mother's face as she walked in to the kitchen of my childhood home to find Matt and I finger-painting with chocolate syrup. I see the night my mother brought Matt home from the hospital for his final days, and know that I am helping someone who knows the same feeling.

In giving to the CFC, I know that my money is more than just a number. I'm giving hope to those who need it most. I would have never seen that opportunity without the help of the CFC.