Make a Wish Come True
By Don Luckett
The 2002 NIH Combined Federal Campaign kicked off on Sept. 26 with a ceremony under a tent packed with coordinators and keyworkers on the Natcher Bldg. lawn. Leading the effort this year is the Center for Scientific Review, whose director, Dr. Ellie Ehrenfeld, promised a successful campaign.
She reminded everyone that NIH'ers are very concerned and generous individuals. "Last year," Ehrenfeld said, "over 50 percent of us responded to the campaign and pledged $1.6 million."
She recalled how glad she was when she discovered the CFC. "When tax time came, I used to scramble up the checks I had written to my favorite charities, and then I often realized I hadn't given all I had intended to give." The CFC has since simplified her giving and helped her to support charities the way she always intended. "Now," she added, "when charities call and ask for support, I can say I contributed to the CFC and feel good about it."
Just about anyone can feel this good because the CFC catalog lists more than 3,000 different charities that have been evaluated and found worthy of support. "Whatever causes you believe in, you will find charities you like in the catalog," said Ehrenfeld. Finding them is now easier than before. The new CFC web site (http://cfc.nih.gov) has a link to a search engine that will let you search for your charities using keywords.
Since the cost of raising funds through the CFC is significantly lower than what most charities typically pay, CFC charities can spend more on their programs. Ehrenfeld said that charities are glad for one-time contributions, but they thrive on payroll deductions. "Sustained funding allows our charities to develop solid plans and budgets so they can keep up their good work through the year.
"For most of us," Ehrenfeld continued, "a few dollars a week pledged to a CFC charity is just a few dollars a week, something we hardly miss." But it means much more. "Our contributions allow us to make wishes come true for people in need."
To illustrate her point, she introduced the executive director of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the mid-Atlantic region, Ralph Nappi. His local chapter grants 400 wishes a year to children who have life-threatening illnesses. Nappi listed the top five wishes children have: a Disney vacation, a computer, a trip to someplace other than the Magic Kingdom, a shopping spree and an opportunity to meet a famous person Michael Jordan and President Bush top this list.
Sometimes, however, the children have unusual wishes. Nappi spoke of an 11-year-old girl named Sumaia, who suffered from a severe case of juvenile diabetes. "Her family had few resources," he said. "But it was a wonderful family." Her parents, brothers and sisters were "all rooting for her to get better." The Make-A-Wish volunteer assumed Sumaia would ask for a shopping spree. But Sumaia asked for something more. "You know," she said, "I am so blessed in my life... I would like to give my wish to somebody who doesn't have as much as I do."
True to their promise, the Make-A-Wish folks granted Sumaia's wish. They drove her in a limousine to a restaurant where they presented a $5,000 check to another CFC charity the Christian Children Foundation. The money will allow Sumaia to take care of a little girl from another country who doesn't have a mother and father until she is 18 years old. All medical and educational expenses also will be covered. "The look on her face!" Nappi exclaimed. "Sumaia was so happy. It was better for her than a trip to Disney."
"That's what it's all about," Nappi said to the crowd. "Make sure people know their donations are important."
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