Show some love! Annual federal employee charity campaign kicks off
- By Nathan Abse
- Sep 19, 2019
Washington – The top federal employee and retiree charity fund drive—the Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area—kicked off this week, with an event in downtown D.C. Leaders of the event urged feds to continue to participate and give generously to charity.
This year’s goal: to raise at least $34 million for worthy causes by the campaign’s end date, Jan. 12, 2020. Organizers hoped to instill excitement in attendees at the event—especially among key fundraising leaders from across the federal government—with inspiring speakers, and by hosting the event in a fun and beautiful setting—the stunning Smithsonian Institution’s Arts & Industries building, just next door to the iconic Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall.
“Are you all ready to show some love?” Dr. Jody Olsen, Peace Corps Director and current honorary chair of the campaign, challenged the crowd of feds and other guests via video address. “It’s the generosity of federal employees and retirees, our military and postal workers, that helps those in need throughout our community, across our nation and around the world.”
“We are a people who give selflessly, from the heart,” she added.
Olsen’s point—that feds and federal retirees are generous people—has been borne out over the years. The campaign has been going strong for nearly six decades now, and has contributed some $8.3 billion in donations to thousands of charities over the period. The tradition has continued—despite setbacks, such as years of modest federal pay raises and pay freezes and a fall-off in giving—and last year the CFCNCA raised over $34 million and 56,000 volunteer hours. To many observers and charities, these are still impressive numbers.
“Your generosity this year transformed lives of people you will never know, but who will be better because of you,” Vince Micone, who chairs the Local Federal Coordinating Committee that oversees the CFCNCA and another speaker, told the crowd.
Micone emphasized how especially helpful the regular, reliable funding from fed donors and volunteers who participate in CFC turns out to be. “Charities have a chance to receive routine monthly donations from the CFC that help them keep their lights on—one of the things about the CFC is that our dollars don’t come with strings. It allows charities and nonprofits flexibility, when something [unforeseen] happens,” he said.
Quite literally, the sun shined on this year’s kickoff. Light and warmth poured through the historic building’s cathedral-style windows on feds and guests enjoying the speakers—as well as a military band and a melodious children’s choir—and later wandering among dozens of booths set up by charities and nonprofits, each hoping to catch eyes.
And catch eyes, they did! In front of the Hero Dogs charity table, two beautiful Labrador Retrievers nudged each other playfully as Sarah Weishampel, the group’s representative, explained the group’s worthy mission—helping disabled veterans and first responders by hooking them up with some able and mood-lifting company: service and other highly-trained dogs. “The disability does not need to be service-related to qualify,” Weishampel noted, more than once, to those who stopped by.
At a neighboring table, helping people and animals is again spotlighted—here, on an even wider scale. The WWF’s familiar panda logo heralds the group’s many functions, and its six realms of concern—wildlife, food, climate, fresh water, forests and oceans—summed up under the overarching mission, to “conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth.”
The WWF booth—like many others—offered enticing swag for attendees to remember their cause by. But, in order to walk away with a WWF panda version of a teddy bear, you had to correctly identify at least two out of four wildlife species from just an extreme close-up photo of its coat offered as a clue. Not impossible, but not a cakewalk either, one winning attendee cradling his prize noted.
Other booths and stations at the event likewise let guests consult educational materials—or toy with festive props and costumes, for selfies and educational games. Attendees wandered among these, as they lined the cavernous wings of the building, representing a range of groups, including: the National Association of American Veterans, the American Kidney Fund, the Epilepsy Foundation, Helping Children Worldwide, CERT International, Rails-to-Trails—as well as the Project on Government Oversight, which serves as a watchdog on government waste, fraud and abuse and invites federal employee tips and participation. There were also booths representing local charities, ranging from the Anacostia neighborhood charter school Thurgood Marshall Academy to the Greater D.C. Diaper Bank (federal and state poverty programs generally do not cover the cost of diapers.)
The federal campaign offers more than 7,000 participating charities, so—as a CFCNCA release states— “whether one is passionate about homelessness, disaster relief, veterans, education, animal welfare, or any other worthy cause, the campaign has a charity for each person to support.” Feds and retirees can give to more than one, of course, and they can have small amounts deducted directly from payroll or retirement—making it convenient to support their favorite causes.
Speakers at the event also included Retired Army Captain Alvin Shell—a war hero who was severely burned and almost died saving his fellow servicemen in Iraq—and David Miliband, President and CEO of the large humanitarian charity International Rescue Committee.
This year’s CFCNCA campaign themes—Show Your Love, and Show You Care—aim to highlight that federal employees and retirees can give either money or volunteer hours—or both. The themes also convey how effective federal giving is in the community, with the federal community’s money and hours actually providing real love and care to those who need it. To learn more—and to make your pledge of money or volunteer time—visit www.cfcnca.org.