Remarks at the Presentation Ceremony for the ``C'' Flag Awards

June 18, 1986

Please be seated. I want to tell you, we really have tight security here. As a matter of fact, the Vice President and I found out we couldn't get out of the door in the Oval Office. [Laughter] So, we made our way around. Well, thank you all, and welcome to the Rose Garden. And I want to thank the advance team for arranging such pleasant weather for today. Usually, in this season of the year, these summer events in the Rose Garden are a little like a steambath. As one newcomer to Washington summers once remarked: ``It's not the heat, it's the humility.'' He obviously hadn't been here long, because humility is not in great supply in this town. [Laughter]

But I want to extend special thanks to John Phelan who has very actively taken on the chairmanship of my Board of Advisors for Private Sector Initiatives. It's always good to know that the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange is bullish on our program. I also want to thank Eddie Fritts who, as vice chairman of the Board, is mobilizing the communications industry to recognize model private sector initiatives around the country and help give credit where credit is due. And I also want to thank Bill Taylor, the chairman of the ``C'' Flag program, who has provided strong leadership and, together with the other sponsoring organizations, has made this day possible.

Thinking earlier about this ``C'' Flag ceremony and the spirit of kindness and caring it represents, I couldn't help but remember an old story. When you get to be my age, most stories you remember are old. [Laughter] It's about that traveling salesman who was having kind of a rough day of it. And he went into a diner finally, wearily, and ordered a cup of coffee and a couple of eggs. And the waitress brought the order and said, ``Will there be anything else?'' And he said, ``Well, how about a few kind words.'' She said, ``Don't eat the eggs.'' [Laughter]

The truth is, when we first came to office talking about private sector initiatives, there were a lot of skeptics out there. In those days people had been conditioned to -- certainly beginning to be conditioned -- to always look to government first. But the funny thing was, the more they depended on government, the more disappointed they invariably became. To steal a phrase from the private sector, they were using it more, but enjoying it less. What had been forgotten in all those times was that, with personal charity, there are two winners: the person who gives as well as the person who receives. And very often, it's the giver who receives the most precious gift. Personal, private charity humanizes a society. It makes us more aware of each other, of our hopes and needs and of our sorrows and our joys, and it makes us all more compassionate. I think we found that the cold, clinical, impersonal giving of government handouts can just never replace private voluntarism; sometimes it's even counterproductive.

It reminds me of another story, one of my favorities, about that fellow that was riding a motorcycle on a cold day. And the winds, hitting the buttons on the front of his leather jacket, were chilling him. And he finally pulled over and turned the jacket around and put it on backward. And that protected him from the wind, but it also restricted his arm movement somewhat and he hit a patch of ice, skidded into a tree. When the ambulance got there and the attendants elbowed their way through the crowd that had gathered, and they said, ``What happened?'' And one of the people that was there first said, ``Well, we don't know. When we got here, he seemed to be all right, but by the time we had his head turned around straight, he was dead.'' [Laughter] That story comes to mind when I think sometimes of government's efforts.

Well, I said earlier there were skeptics, but they're being blown out of the water by the rising tide of charitable giving. In 1985 all of you, the private citizens of this country, the corporations and the foundations, gave a record of nearly $80 billion to philanthropic causes. And that was an increase of $6\1/2\ billion, roughly, more than from 1984. Between 1980 and '85 charitable giving in this country has risen over 60 percent. Private corporations have been an important part of this renaissance in private giving, as the thousands of ``C'' Flags, waving over office buildings from New York to San Francisco, attest. It's particularly significant that corporations and associations in this country are on the move in new and innovative ways, channeling resources and creative genius into improving our communities. Corporate giving of in-kind and noncash donations, such as property, personnel, products, and low-interest loans, have as much as tripled -- without replacing cash contributions. You are using your organizational expertise and knowledge on the marketplace to focus on new opportunities to promote community partnerships. These private sector initiatives are win-win situations and demonstrate that no task is too difficult or challenge too great when matched against American ingenuity and resourcefulness.

All of you here today are shining examples of the can-do spirit. For example, there's the program initiated by the Clorox Company in Oakland, California. It's called Project JOY -- that stands for Job Opportunities for Youth -- training young people in the art of getting and holding on to jobs. There's the program begun by Avon Products to enable disadvantaged children to give Christmas gifts to their families. Can you ever imagine government thinking of that one, or doing it? The Kroger Company donated 10 cents of every purchase of a certain number of items, raising $100,000 in 1 week, to help feed the poor. Polaroid Corporation in Boston trains 500 unemployed from the inner city every year for meaningful, full-time jobs and follows up to make sure they stay employed. Now, that's a pretty picture. The Pillsbury Company is carrying good will abroad with a self-help program to improve nutrition in rural Bolivia. I wish I could name you all. The good work you're doing makes your country proud. We've shown that American business can, and that American business cares.

And now I am going to hand this ceremony over to Bill Taylor and John here who'll be calling your names and helping as I present the awards. And in advance I'll say congratulations to you all. Keep up the good work, and thank you, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 11:36 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. He presented citations to 30 businesses and associations for their outstanding private sector initiatives.