VOLUNTEERS, BIDEN FAMILY FILL CARE KITS AT DC ARMORY
Vice President Joe Biden, left, and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, right, work to fill care kits for U.S. service members at the D.C. Armory on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. The Biden family worked for about 20 minutes before speaking to the volunteers. (Charles Minshew)
WASHINGTON -- Thousands of volunteers from nine different community organizations filed into the DC Armory in eastern Washington D.C. Saturday to fill care kits with a variety of toiletries and hygiene products that will be sent to U.S. service members serving overseas, veterans and first responders.
Among the volunteers who helped fill care kits were Vice President Joe Biden, his wife, Dr. Jill Biden and other members of the Biden family. The event was part of the National Day of Service to honor Martin Luther King Jr.
The Bidens filled care kits before taking the stage to speak to those in attendance.
The vice president thanked the volunteers for their service, saying that the nearly 70,000 troops overseas would appreciate the work of those in the armory.
“You know, they’re not looking for anything, but knowing that we back home just remembered is an important piece of the equation,” Biden said.
Later in his remarks, Biden noted the importance of the volunteers’ work.
Biden said, “Although there’s only one percent fighting these wars, 99 percent of the nation owes them a debt of obligation and an acknowledgement of what they’re doing.”
Before noon, thousands of volunteers had already filed through the armory. At least 10 large crates had already been filled with the care kits. Event organizers hoped to complete at least 100,000 kits before the end of the day.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano urged volunteers not to let community service end stop at the end of the day.
“We say at Homeland Security that homeland security begins with hometown security and hometown security begins with the service of men and women such as yourselves – the people who live in our nation’s communities,” said Napolitano.
Since 2003, Operation Gratitude has sent more than 900,000 care packages to U.S. service members. The organization’s founder, Carolyn Blashek, said that the last kit packaged today would be the one millionth kit to go to a U.S. service member.
Blashek said it takes almost a whole year to build 100,000 care packages and that the organization's one millionth care package will be delivered in December.
Michelle Nunn CEO of Points of Light, a volunteer organization, said care packages were being filled at a quick rate.
“I think we are well on track to meet the goal and I actually think we may finish up early. People are so enthusiastic.”
Organizers were also on hand to thank volunteers for their respective organizations.
Kate Raftery, national director of the National Civilian Community Corp, said, “I maybe made three kits, but I think I made about 300 new friends, which is equally as important.”