Virtual Charity Fair and Campaign Kickoff draws hundreds of viewers

The annual celebratory Charity Fair and Campaign Kickoff supporting the Combined Federal Campaign, Dayton District, opened Oct. 7 with a twist – it went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, drawing several hundred viewers to the Commercial Virtual Remote live environment.

The one-hour event featured supportive messages from Gen. Arnold Bunch Jr., commander, Air Force Materiel Command, and Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, plus video clips from 13 local charities.

“This is one of only two charitable events that the Air Force supports and endorses throughout the year,” Bunch said of the CFC campaign. “This is your opportunity to make a donation to support your cause, whether it’s national or local. There are literally thousands of vetted charities that you can select to make a donation to for a one-time donation or through a payroll deduction.”

With COVID-19 and a number of natural disasters and other events this year, CFC charities find themselves in need of support so they can support beneficiaries, he said, noting that volunteer opportunities also are available through CFC charities.

Miller said the campaign’s 2020-21 tagline of “Be the Face of Change” fits well with how the local federal workforce volunteers for and gives money to charities.

“We all have our passions – things that we love to be a part of. We all have our causes – things we want to see move forward. The Combined Federal Campaign is the one time each year we get together to have the opportunity to focus on a number of charities out there,” he said. “The campaign runs through Nov. 20. To learn more about it, get on the website at When you see a hand symbol, that hand signifies a charity that is willing to accept volunteer hours. They want you to share of your time – perhaps the biggest gift you can give. And if donating money, every dollar makes a difference.”

88 ABW Vice Director Gregory Leingang noted that 60 of the thousands of CFC charities operate in the Miami Valley and 170 in Ohio.

“I encourage you to go to the website and find out what you’re passionate about. Please, folks, give what you can,” he said.

Contributions may be made now through Jan. 15, 2021. The campaign will seek to contact 100 percent of all local Department of Defense, federal, U.S. Postal Service and Veterans Affairs personnel, said Susy Himelhoch, CFC Dayton District director.

The kickoff event was emceed by Sean Hennessy, chief of Air Force Life Cycle Management’s Director’s Action Group. Winning responses to his fun trivia questions in between messages netted respondents movie tickets.

Several poignant messages came from retired and active-duty military members.

Chantaé Gray, a retired Air Force veteran assigned to the 711th Human Performance Wing, Air Force Research Laboratory, has served as a CFC loaned executive. She spoke about the critical support she received from CFC charities during her fight against breast cancer with meals, appointment assistance and active listening.

Lt. Col. Steven Coffee spoke from a deployed environment about the help his family received when his son, Steven Coffee II, was born with complex medical needs and had to have a liver transplant. It was successful, but the family discovered their needs for support then and to this day.

“CFC gives us the ability to connect with charities like those that have impacted our lives,” he said. “They’ve helped us navigate a complex medical landscape and helped manage our situation. So whether it is health care, patient advocacy, education or whatever your cause, it’s easy to get involved. Through the CFC, you can show some love to a charity that impacts your life. Go to and show some love today.”

Chris Merlo, vice chair of OCFC, Dayton District, thanked everyone for their participation and encouraged the audience to speak to their unit’s campaign manager and key workers with any questions.

“CFC is more important than ever,” he said.

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