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Secretary Vilsack Kicks off the Combined Federal Campaign at USDA

October 20 marked the official launch of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) at USDA for the Washington, D.C. metro area. Administered by the government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM), CFC is the world’s largest workplace giving program. Since its inception in 1961, federal employees have contributed more than $6 billion to the non-profit community.

This year, USDA has set a goal of raising just under $2 million from its approximately 10,000 employees in the national capital area. The official kickoff on Tuesday morning was an exciting event in the Whitten Building patio featuring top USDA leadership and more than 20 CFC registered non-profit organizations. Secretary Tom Vilsack and Undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics, Dr. Raj Shah, led off the event by speaking movingly about the ways that non-profit organizations touch all of our lives in critical and transformative ways.

Dr. Shah spoke about incredible array of non-profits that participate in CFC, from groups doing lifesaving work fighting malaria in Africa to charities feeding hungry people right here in Washington, D.C. Secretary Vilsack spoke about his own birth in a Catholic orphanage, saying that he probably would not be here today if not for the nuns who took care of him and his birth mother.

Both stressed the importance of giving generously this year more than ever, as the worldwide economic crisis has dramatically increased the needs of the non-profit community even as donations to the sector have fallen off. Secretary Vilsack emphasized that as federal workers, we have all been blessed with good jobs, and that CFC is a wonderful opportunity to share that blessing with people in need.

After Secretary Vilsack’s remarks, he officially opened the campaign by handing in his own completed pledge form. Dr. Shah and much of USDA’s senior leadership followed suit, as the assembled USDA employees watched a video message from President Obama. The President encouraged all federal employees to give generously to CFC this year, as part of the same spirit of service and community that he has worked to strengthen across the country through United We Serve.

As the first phase of the kickoff drew to a close, Bernadine Prince of FARMFRESH Markets spoke about her organization’s work to promote locally grown food throughout the DC Metro area. When Ms. Prince finished her remarks, it was time for the attendees to sample some of the fresh, locally grown food from USDA’s very own Farmers Market, such as apple cider and banana bread.

Before attendees enjoyed the delicious and healthy refreshments, Dr. Susan McCarthy from the Agricultural Research Service, USDA’s 2009 CFC Campaign Manager, launched the charity fair. This fair was an excellent opportunity for USDA employees to talk to representatives of a few of the thousands of non-profits represented in the CFC catalog. Employees who attended reported having a wonderful time and learning a great deal about non-profits doing great work in a wide variety of ways.

The Secretary is hoping that all employees will join him in giving to the non-profit organizations of their choice. The size of the gift matters much less than the fact that each employee participates on some level. DC Metro area federal employees can find out everything they need to know to get involved in CFC by visiting Federal employees outside of Washington can locate their local campaign’s website by following this link. Together, federal employees can provide a huge boost to the critical work of the non-profit sector.

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