By gt. 1st Class Manuel Torres, U.S. Army North PAOMay 24, 2010
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - Soldiers and community members from Army North and Fort Sam Houston banded together to contribute more than $217,000 in donations to the Army Emergency Relief program through the 2010 Fort Sam Houston AER campaign.
To celebrate their achievements, the campaign workers hosted a Hawaiian-style luau for AER representatives and contributing units May 17.
"It's all about the Soldiers. These AER contributions help them and their Families," said Lt. Col. Jim Chaney, deputy G1, Army North. "Soldiers are the ones accomplishing the mission on the ground, and those are the ones we need to help."
Chaney provided information to Army North members on how they could support the AER campaign as well as the Military American Saves program, which encourages the military community to meet their immediate needs and to build long-term wealth through saving and debt reductions, according to a Military Saves organization pamphlet.
"It was a great turnout this year," declared Staff Sgt. Lashawn Williamson, administrative assistant, ARNORTH AER representative, adding that Army North donations double its contributions from last year.
AER representatives were seen throughout the various commands throughout the installation as they distributed, collected and submitted the AER contribution forms.
The tasks are rewarding, said an Army North representative, but can be challenging as well.
"You need to be very patient and very persistent," said Sgt. 1st Class Alberto Cadiz, command group noncommissioned officer, Army North. "Continue to ask people who haven't had time to donate yet due to their busy work schedules and offer advice to those who are unfamiliar with the program. The campaign gives us an opportunity to share real-life stories of those who have been helped and saved through AER contributions."
Sgt. 1st Class Gary Visher, who serves as a senior platoon sergeant with Company C, 232nd Medical Battalion, was recognized during the luau with a certificate of appreciation and a tropical pineapple after he had amassed more than $19,000 in donations.
Ann Mancillas, the AER manager, congratulated the assembled representatives and noted that the campaign, regardless of the dollar amount, was a success due to countless volunteers who worked diligently in getting all the events in motion.
Mancillas, who leads the Fort Sam Houston AER campaign, started working for AER through volunteering, She said she had never worked with the military community prior to joining the team through her AER efforts but she felts it was important to acknowledge the hard work the men and women in uniform do and to thank those who supported the fund-raising campaign.
"Never in my life have I been so proud of working until I came here to work with all the Military and Civilian at Fort Sam Houston," said Mancillas.
Additional information is available on the Army Emergency Relief program at: http://www.aerhq.org/.