Early pledging targets storm victims

Federal workers

September 09, 1992|By Carol Emert | Carol Emert,States News Service

WASHINGTON -- Federal employees can make charitable donations to the victims of Hurricane Andrew sooner rather than later, thanks to emergency measures taken by the Office of Personnel Management's Combined Federal Campaign (CFC).

The CFC, through which government workers can donate to charities through payroll deductions, normally collects contributions during six-week campaigns held at federal workplaces around the country in the fall of each year. But so many federal employees expressed a desire to help out the hurricane victims that OPM is allowing people to fill out pledge cards early.

Hurricane relief donors can make out checks for the full amount of the gift, rather than having it deducted from their paychecks in piecemeal fashion over the course of the year.

The normally scheduled six-week campaigns, which begin no earlier than Sept. 1 and end no later than Nov. 15, will go ahead as planned at each of the 480 participating workplaces. Last year $204 million was raised by CFC for dozens of charities -- $4.5 million was raised in Baltimore and $35 million was donated in the Washington area.

CFC director Dennis Matteotti says it's impossible to predict whether federal workers will cough up more money this year than usual, or will deduct their Hurricane Andrew gifts from their total charitable giving.

"Federal employees have demonstrated year in and year out that they are very generous, and every year we break our total for giving," even with the threat of reductions in force (RIFs) and furloughs, he says.

An initial list of charitable groups working with the disaster victims includes the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, Child Welfare League of America, Congress of National Black Churches, Lions Club International Foundation, National Urban League, Rotary Foundation, Salvation Army, United Way of America and USO.

Federal employee unions also are getting into the act, with hurricane relief funds for members.

The National Treasury Employees Union can give to fellow members through a special ftnd at the Federal Employees Education and Assistance Fund.

The money will be disbursed in $100 grants for dozens of hard-hit NTEU members, mainly Florida employees of the Customs Service, Internal Revenue Service and Department of Health and Human Services.

Information is available from NTEU headquarters at (202) 783-4444. Contributions to the NTEU-FEEA fund should be sent to 8441 West Bowles, Suite 200, Littleton, Colo. 80123.

The American Federation of Government Employees announced yesterday that it has established a disaster relief fund with a $10,000 start-up gift from the headquarters office in Washington. Donations can be sent to the AFGE Disaster Relief Fund, AFGE Fifth District Office, 510 Plaza Drive, Suite 2510, College Park, Ga. 30349.

AFGE members also are being asked to collect food and supplies that can be sent to hurricane victims.

AFGE's National Immigration and Naturalization Service Council has set up a separate fund for its employees, also with a $10,000 base gift from AFGE accounts.

Donations can be made to the Hurricane Andrew Relief Fund, c/o Mildred Williams, Local 3123, P.O. Box 3192, Atlanta, Ga. 30302.

Annuity confusion:

A new bill by Rep. Constance Morella, R-8th, would help some surviving spouses of government retirees by eliminating a confusing and burdensome payment that currently is on the books.

The bill, introduced in August, pertains to any husband or wife of a federal retiree who is not the retiree's first spouse and who married the former federal worker after he or she retired.

Under current law, a retiree can have deductions taken from his or her monthly benefits check that will go to his or her spouse if the spouse lives longer than the retiree.

But if the spouse dies before the retiree and the retiree halts the deductions from his or her monthly check, any future spouse of the retiree will have to pay back the "missed" deductions before he or she can begin to collect survivor's benefits.

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