Combined Federal Campaign kicks off at Fort Drum
October 13, 2011
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Army personnel should count their blessings and seriously consider giving to a worthwhile charity this year, Fort Drum's garrison commander told those gathered last week on post for the 50th annual Combined Federal Campaign kick-off.
"We are blessed," said Col. Noel T. Nicolle. "All of us in this room and living on this installation are blessed. We have a job. If we have a Family, we have a place for them to live. What we have is immeasurable compared to some of our fellow citizens.
"I think that what we are able to do through the Combined Federal Campaign, in a lot of ways, answers the human condition," he added.
The Combined Federal Campaign, the world's largest annual workplace charity drive, was begun in 1961 to promote philanthropy in the federal workforce. In the last four years alone, the national effort has raised more than $1 billion among employees to go to nonprofit organizations that help those in need around the world.
All 10th Mountain Division Soldiers and DoD civilians at Fort Drum may obtain pledge forms and booklets that list thousands of eligible charitable organizations from their unit or directorate CFC representative.
The campaign on post will run through Nov. 18, with a goal of raising $225,000.
Waving his CFC booklet at Soldiers and civilians, Nicolle challenged key leaders in the audience to enthusiastically embrace and participate in this year's campaign.
"I'm (asking) you to be a little bit excited about this and challenge anybody to go through this book. I'll give you $100 to go through this book and tell me that your personal Family is not in any way impacted by just one of these organizations," said Nicolle, using the example of his late uncle, a paraplegic who fought in World War II, to drive his point home.
"Just believe in what you are doing, that's all I am asking of you," he said. "If you don't believe in this, go back to your chain of command and ask them to pick somebody else. Because it's like with anything else -- if you don't believe in it, you're just going through the motions. And that's not fair to our citizens and our fellow Soldiers."
Every unit and civilian directorate at Fort Drum was represented at the kick-off event, said Kent Thompson, Fort Drum Financial Readiness Program manager and local CFC coordinator.
"Those representatives have a big responsibility in soliciting their units and their directorates for campaign contributions," he said.
Thompson added that every charity listed in the CFC booklet must meet specific IRS criteria to be eligible to receive donations via the federal campaign, which is sponsored by the Office of Personnel Management.
Karen Clark, Fort Drum USO director, said if each of the 17,000 or so Soldiers at Fort Drum gave $1, it would nearly fund her entire snack bar budget for one year.
"We don't do any other fundraising effort on Fort Drum -- it's strictly donations," Clark said of USO funding. "This is the only time that we actually make a pitch, asking people to help support us.
"(Donations) just go right back to them anyway," Clark added, "because everything that we offer helps the community."
Another organization with a table set up during the kick-off was Voice of the Martyrs.
"We have freedoms to worship in any way that we want to in this country, but that's not the case in restricted countries," said Susan Weidler, Voice of the Martyrs area representative. "We deliver humanitarian aid to those (who are under) religious persecution."
During the event, Nicolle emphasized the value in giving to charitable groups, but he said he understands that sometimes a healthy dose of skepticism is in order when it comes to selecting an organization.
"It could be the Organization for Vertically Challenged People from Louisiana," he said, fabricating a charity to poke fun at his own height. "But then you look down at the bottom and see that 75 percent of what they take in goes to administrative (costs)."
The garrison commander concluded his speech by stressing the fact that he doesn't expect people to contribute a ton of money to CFC.
"I'm just asking that you be a little excited about this and just put it in terms of the human condition," he said. "Maybe you only give $10 in contributions. That's OK. At least you can look people in the eye and say you gave something."