SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Charities gathered for the Combined Federal Campaign fair and chili cook off at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Nov. 14.
Col. Jennifer Grant, 50th Space Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Boston Alexander, 50th SW command chief, and Airman 1st Class Emily Rivera, 50th Operations Support Squadron student, judged the 15 chilis, and awarded prizes for best overall, most unique and spiciest chili.
Capt. Regan De la Cruz, 19th Space Operations Squadron deputy flight commander, won most unique and best overall chili, earning a $50 gift card, crediting his wife for helping make it.
“I was honestly surprised I won, and all the credit in the world goes to my wife,” he smiled. “I was simply the medium to presenting it at the chili cook-off. We were lucky enough to win the gift card and my wife will spend it on whatever she wants.”
De la Cruz said the day was perfect for chili.
“It was a brisk morning and the sun was shining so it was one of those misleading Colorado sunny days that made me think it would be warm, but it was still a bit ‘chili,’” he laughed.
De la Cruz added he got to meet a lot of organizations that support people in the local community.
“I really appreciated being able to hear their personal stories and why their charities mean so much to them,” he said.
De la Cruz said he enjoyed the opportunity to meet CFC charities and spend a day with his fellow Airmen, learning and eating good food.
"Having morale-boosting events are important to organizations because it gives service members moments of levity during the work week and the opportunity to bond and meet others in different career fields,” he said.
Senior Airman Brian Roppolo, 50th Contracting Squadron contract specialist, said planning and executing the cook off was stressful at times, but with guidance, seeing it come together as a success was rewarding.
Roppolo added it's important to host events like the charity fair so Airmen can educate themselves on organizations and the difference they can make in the community.
“Talking with the charities opened my eyes to a lot of ways that I can help out in Colorado,” he said.
De la Cruz said the best part of the day was being able to hear from Vietnam War veterans representing the Quilts of Valor organization.
“There are so many great causes to support and I would never have known about this organization and their mission through a quick perusal of the CFC booklet,” he said.
Master Sgt. Kenneth Dallies, 50th Space Communications Squadron special mission system flight chief, said the turn-out for the event was good, and hopes to see even more attendees next year.
“The charities appreciated the opportunity to come out to the event and bring awareness to their causes,” he said. “Several have expressed they are looking forward to coming back out next year.”
Dallies explained it’s important to host fairs like these to raise awareness of the great charity organizations out doing meaningful work.
“Someone may not know who they would like to support until they actually talk to these organizations to learn what they actually do,” he said. “They may just happen to find something that strikes a nerve or close to home that they become passionate about.”
Dallies said the most rewarding part of the day was the interactions with the charities and hearing their appreciation for hosting the event.
He expressed his appreciation for the help of his fellow Airmen.
“Their hard work and dedication to getting the event set-up and organized were key to bringing the event to fruition,” he said. “I could not have pulled it off without them.
“I would also like to thank everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to enter their chili and those who came out to sample the chili and visit with the charities,” he continued. “I hope everyone enjoyed the day and got something out of it.”
Dallies encouraged Airmen to think about what they are passionate about and find a charity that supports it.
“The great thing about the CFC this year is your donation doesn’t have to be monetary, you can choose to donate volunteer hours.”
The nonprofits at the fair were just a few of the thousands of participating charities, representing a multitude of causes from veterans services, disaster relief, disease research, wildlife preservation, recreation, arts, animal welfare and more.
The CFC has many benefits for nonprofits, including the following:
The CFC gives charities access to hundreds of thousands of federal employees through one application process.
CFC donations are unrestricted funds, allowing nonprofits to respond effectively to community needs rather than being required to direct funds to a certain program.
CFC donations provide a critical source of revenue received throughout the year, making budgeting easier for charities.
To make a CFC donation, visit mountainstatescfc.org.