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Heavy thunderstorms in Naples, Italy, doused plans Monday to kick off the 2005 Combined Federal Campaign with cake and a keynote address, but it didn’t dampen efforts to start the season of giving.

The two-month 2005 Combined Federal Campaign-Overseas started Monday, and federal workers throughout the European Command will be asked for the 40th year to donate to the less fortunate, said Greg Sassman, director of CFC-Overseas.

The European campaign runs through Dec. 3, and donors can select to have contributions go to more than 1,700 national and international charitable and humanitarian organizations.

Federal employees stationed in the Central, Pacific and Southern commands will begin their campaign on Oct. 17.

Last year, the U.S. European Command raised $6.8 million, “and that was a record,” Sassman said. “We’re hoping to do that or better this year.”

While donors can select to have contributions go to hurricane Katrina and Rita disaster relief organizations, that might not be the best option if they are looking for an immediate impact of their dollars, he said.

Contributors designate now the charities they wish to receive donations, but money isn’t deducted from their paychecks until January if they opt for the payroll deduction, he said.

“We advise people compelled to give to the disaster relief to go through the list of approved charities and give directly to those charities, instead of through the CFC,” Sasser said. The approved list is posted on the CFC Web site at: www.cfcoverseas.org.

However, CFC sponsors still want donors to funnel funds to the campaign.

One option gaining in popularity is the Family Support Youth Program, in which 100 percent of a donation is returned to the base or installation of the contributor, said Navy Lt. Anthony Schermerhorn, the Naval Forces Europe CFC manager.

“If you’re in Naples, and you donate to the FSYP, you’re going to help your neighbor’s kid,” Schermerhorn said. “That’s really good stuff.”

Last year, more than $526,000 in contributions was returned to bases through the program.

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