Army Emergency Relief kicks off its annual campaign next week, running from March 1 through May 15.

Wallace Kotarski, an AER specialist, said the campaign's goal is to spread awareness of the programs, benefits to all Soldiers, raise money for the organization, emphasize financial assistance Soldiers can receive from it, and to continue the program's 76-year legacy.

"Financial readiness contributes to Soldier readiness," he said.

The relief organization is a nonprofit founded in 1942 designed to assist U.S. Army personnel with emergency financial aid. The organization also provides services such as scholarship opportunities for spouses and dependents of Soldiers.

Since its inception, the organization has provided nearly $2 billion in financial assistance for nearly 4 million Soldiers and their Families, according to Fort Knox AER manager Shannon Wilson.

The campaign begins on Fort Knox with a March 1 training session for unit project officers that includes detailed instructions and expectations for the campaign. The training is from 10:30 a.m. to noon in the sports room of the Samuel Adams Brewhouse and is hosted by Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Garrick Griffin, according to Kotarski.

Kotarski said unit project officers then make contact with active duty and retired Soldiers and their dependents at assigned units or organizations throughout the campaign.

Kotarski said the organization relies on donations from fellow active and retired Soldiers, a fact that goes along with their motto "helping the Army take care of its own."

"Success of the AER campaign relies on 100 percent contact of Soldiers, active and retired, and their dependents through the unit and organization project officers throughout the campaign," he said.

Donations also come from campaign materials mailed to retired service members worldwide, Kotarski said. The Fort Knox AER section raised $138,659 in donations during the 2017 campaign, according to Wilson.

To donate to AER, go to