Thanks very much Mike. It is a pleasure to be here with Lou Torchia and General Brown. Welcome, John, to the team. And it is a great team.
It is my honor to again kick off the Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Region.
I particularly want to recognize the team leaders who are here. As Mike has cited, for 7 straight years we have been able to exceed the goal. And it is you who are the engine behind that success and we are asking you again to step up and we know you will because the Department has a history of being out in front, of leading the pack in the Federal government. I am confident this year will be no different.
As both Mike and General Brown mentioned, this is the 50th anniversary of the Combined Federal Campaign.
The vision that President Kennedy had inspired a half century of giving, enriching the lives of millions across the country and indeed across the world.
Each year I am amazed by the generosity of those across the Department, and proud of our colleagues who willingly donate a portion of their earnings—day by day, pay period by pay period, year by year. The weekly amounts we provide may seem small when taken individually. But when taken together across the Department, the end result is impressive.
Last year, we set a record for the Defense National Capital Region with an annual contribution for each individual of $489 on average. This year, our total campaign goal is again a high one -- $14.2 million dollars. And we are aiming to reach that goal with a smaller potential pool of donors.
To achieve that goal, we each must work a bit harder and bit longer than we did last year. We are going to have to reinforce to our colleagues that their contributions are the vehicle for good. Each dollar we raise is a down payment in making America and the world a better place:
* CFC charities feed the homeless and put roofs over their heads;
* CFC charities help wounded service members and their families;
* CFC charities expand education to those who would otherwise have little access to it;
* And CFC charities provide critical medical supplies in times of crisis.
Speaking a year after the CFC was created, President Kennedy said that charitable giving is “a unique American accomplishment” that “represents the best kind of American tradition.” Charity, President Kennedy went on, gives “a helping hand to those who need it.”
On this 50th anniversary, we must ensure CFC lives up to these words. We must carry forward this uniquely American tradition. We must continue to live the deepest values of our Department: Service. Sacrifice. And a duty to others.
So let us make 2011 another record year of charitable giving. Let us all come together to do something great.