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PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- It took the Presidio of Monterey just one day to double last year's contributions to the Army Emergency Relief fund thanks to an all-hands assembly, Soldier testimonials and donations from 142 Soldiers during Feb 25's kickoff event.

The Presidio's AER officer, Leyla Burns, said they raised $12,504.95 from first-day donations, dwarfing last year's entire total of $5,495.95. By the end of week officials said they had already tripled the amount of Soldiers donating from 51 to 153.

"AER won't pay your lawyer bill but we will pay your light bill, we will pay for your heating bill and we will pay to fix your car, because you bought your car from a shady car dealership," said Joel Levesque, AER's chief financial officer to thousand of Soldiers at the Price Fitness Center.

Established in 1942, AER is a non-governmental, charity organization that provides zero-interest loans, grants and scholarships to eligible Soldiers, dependents and retirees. Last year AER gave out $70 million worth of loans and grants including $283,000 to the Presidio of Monterey and its surrounding retiree community. In total, AER has given out $2 billion during its 78-year history.

Levesque added that AER's mission can only be accomplished by living the fund's motto: "Soldiers taking care of Soldiers."

Pfc. Hunter Funk told his story of "Soldiers taking care of Soldiers." He said when his wife followed him to Presidio, she had, unbeknownst to them, broken a scholarship agreement. "The University of Kentucky sent us a letter saying: you owe us $2,000 and we need it right now," Funk said.

He payed off the school, but ended up falling behind on his bills. That's when he stepped into the AER office and walked out with a no-interest loan.

"It was a very easy process, they were able to give me the money I needed for that month," Funk said. "I don't even notice the small installments that come out of my paycheck."

Funk urged his fellow Soldiers to donate. "That dollar that you give is going to, without-a-doubt, help Soldiers or even your future self," he said.

The AER donation drive will continue until May 15.

For more information on donations or how you can apply for an AER loan contact the Presidio's AER office located at the Stilwell Community Center at 831-242-5501 https://www.aerhq.org/