by Andrea Sutherland
Fifty years ago President John F. Kennedy challenged Americans to join together and help their fellow citizens through volunteering, service work and donating to causes that helped unite the nation.
Soldiers and civilians at Fort Carson were charged with a similar challenge at Tuesday’s Combined Federal Campaign Kickoff at the Special Events Center.
In a speech to the nation, Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” A few months later, Kennedy signed legislation creating the Combined Federal Campaign, a nationwide fundraising campaign that takes place on all military installations and federal agencies.
Representatives from more than 80 nonprofits, including the American Red Cross, Pikes Peak Hospice and Home Front Cares, as well as Fort Carson commanders attended the kickoff event, which included a meet and greet with local organizations and a chili cook-off.
“We only really allow charities to solicit twice a year,” said Brig.
Gen. James H. Doty, acting senior commander, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, addressing a crowd of Soldiers, civilians and nonprofit representatives. Doty said charities are able to fundraise on Fort Carson during the Army Emergency Relief event and the Combined Federal Campaign, which lasts from Sept. 1 to Dec. 15.
Doty said Fort Carson missed its fundraising goal last year, but he expects better participation from units for this year’s Combined Federal Campaign.
This year, Fort Carson officials hope to raise $700,000 to benefit numerous charities ranging from animal shelters and environmental causes to nonprofits dedicated to social causes and disaster relief.
Since its inception in 1961, the Combined Federal Campaign has raised almost $7 billion. Last year, the nationwide campaign raised more than $280 million.
To reach its fundraising goals, units have appointed project officers and key officers to ensure Soldier involvement.
“There are 75 project officers at the brigade and battalion levels,” said Staff Sgt. David Braadland, event organizer. “We currently have 300 key officers, but we should have about 1,000.”
Despite the need of more key officers, Braadland said he was encouraged by the turnout at Tuesday’s event.
“I love this,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity.”
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Combined Federal Campaign, Fort Carson agencies competed in a 60s-themed chili cook-off.
“It’s about fun. It’s about coming together as a team at Fort Carson,” said Col. Robert F. McLaughlin, garrison commander. “I’m not going to tell you to vote for my chili, but it is pretty good.”
In spite of his efforts to sway votes, bragging rights for the best chili went to the U.S. Army Garrison Public Affairs Office.
“There was a lot of good chili there. A lot of different variations,” said contest winner Staff Sgt. Wayne Barnett, who cooked up a batch of his Family’s 100-year-old recipe.
Barnett and the PAO staff also took first place in best presentation and best costume categories, beating more than 20 competitors.
Plans, Analysis and Integration Office took second in all categories.
Fort Carson departments and individual units can salvage prestige by competing for unit awards in this year’s Combined Federal Campaign.