SCHWEINFURT, Germany -- A widow looking for help did not know where to turn. Her husband, a retired Army veteran, had just passed away. While she wanted more than anything to provide him the dignified burial he surely deserved; she was strapped financially.

The USAG Schweinfurt Army Emergency Relief (AER) office provided her a glimmer of hope.

"The week before, it was all uncertainty. She had no idea where she was going to get the money for a burial," said Darryl Jones, USAG Schweinfurt financial readiness program manager.

AER came through with the money and "put a smile on her face," said Jones.

"This Soldier probably invested money (in AER) many, many years ago, and at the end the program took care of her," Jones said.

True story about the Army taking care of its own, the motto of the AER, whose annual collection campaign runs through May 15.

"We're still in the business of taking care of Soldiers and family members and retirees," said Tony Davis, AER manager for the USAG Schweinfurt, which ranked second worldwide in 2008, after receiving nearly $70,000 in donations.

Meanwhile, the Schweinfurt program provided more that $380,000 in loans or grants in 2008, more than five times what they took in, according to Davis.

"It's instilled in us to try to find a way to say yes," he said.

"The AER director's guidance to us at the local level is find a way to say yes, and that's our charter," Jones said.

"If you have a bona fide emergency, AER will provide assistance, even if we have to go to bat for you with your commander. And sometimes we have to do that," Jones said.

Each unit has an AER representative who is available to accept donations and guide Soldiers and their families toward financial assistance when necessary.

"Army Emergency Relief adds value not just to the Schweinfurt community, but to the Army," Jones said.

For more information about donating to the AER, contact your unit or garrison representative.