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NEWS | Oct. 17, 2007

Do your contributions to CFC really help?

By Tech Sgt. Paul Kilgallon 437th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Does this sound familiar to you?

Here we go again. It seems that at the end of every summer there is always this big push by the Air Force to donate to the Combined Federal Campaign. How do I know what I contribute each year really helps someone?

These comments may have come from our friends, or even our fellow Airmen. However, when Maj. Evan East, 437th Airlift Wing deputy director of Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, hears it, he makes it a point to share his own story on why we should contribute to the CFC and how the campaign helped his family.

In 1997, then 2nd Lt. East and his wife, Christina, were stationed at Tyndall AFB, Fla., when his wife went into premature labor when she was only 21 weeks pregnant with twins.

Major East said he immediately rushed to the hospital and was told by the attending doctor that his wife would have to be medevaced to another hospital because they did not have the facilities to handle a complicated birth.

"When I found out she was going to be moved, I contacted my leadership so I could be placed on medical attendant permissive TDY," said Major East. "My commander was very compassionate to the situation and my TDY was approved almost immediately. He told me I could take what ever time I needed to be with my wife."

In less than two hours after receiving word from the doctor, his wife was loaded on to an emergency helicopter bound for the Air Force Regional Medical Center at Keesler AFB, Miss., because this facility had a neo-natal intensive care unit that could handle his wife's medical condition.

With his TDY status approved, Major East drove more than 220 miles through the night with his 2-year-old son, Eran, to be with his wife.

"When I got there I was exhausted, but I was driven by the need to know how my wife was," said Major East.

He arrived at the hospital to learn his wife was fine, but was still having contractions.

"The doctors said they needed to give my wife medications to stop the contractions and allow the babies more time to develop," said Major East.

His wife had to remain in the hospital for a few weeks until the medication could take effect and stop the contractions.
"Although the contractions subsided, my wife had to remain in the local area because she needed to be close to the neo-natal clinic if the contractions started again," said Major East.

After hearing his wife would have to remain in the hospital, he started to wonder where he and his son could stay without incurring a large financial burden.

"I heard some information from one of the nurses in my wife's ward about a way to stay close to my wife that would not cost a fortune," said Major East.

The nurse recommended going to a CFC-supported charity where families of critically ill patients could stay for extended periods for a fraction of what the least expensive commercial hotels would cost.

He said he, his wife and their son stayed for nearly two months and the staff was awesome, caring, compassionate and committed to serving those in need at difficult times.

The twins, Caitlyn and Charleyna, were born at 31 weeks, 10 weeks after his wife was admitted to the hospital.

"It was a trying time, but the ordeal was made easier with the help of a special charity," said Major East. Without the help of the CFC-supported charities, I would have depleted our savings to cover the cost for lodging while caring for my wife."
Major East said this is why he is passionate when it comes to contributing to the CFC.

"I believe if you can donate to the CFC you should," said Major East. The life you save, and the family you help might one day be your own."

The mission of the CFC is to promote and support patronage through a program that is employee focused, cost-efficient and effective in providing all federal employees the opportunity to improve the quality of life for all.

The origins of the CFC date back to 1961 when then President John Kennedy consolidated the numerous charitable campaigns in the Federal work place.

The CFC was developed in response to Federal employee wishes for a single campaign, to reduce administrative expenditure, to permit voluntary pay withholding for contributions, and to better support local, national and international health and welfare.

Since its inception, the CFC has become the largest combined charity drive in the United States.

Each year, more than 350 CFC campaigns throughout the United States help to raise millions of dollars. The donations made by Federal civilian, postal and military members support eligible non-profit organizations that provide health and human service benefits throughout the world. 

Last year, Team Charleston raised more than $218,000 and with only 12 days left to donate; those wishing to contribute can contact their squadron representative or go to the CFC Web site for more information at