By U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Army Community Service, News ReleaseMarch 7, 2011
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - The Army Emergency Relief fundraising campaign, here, kicked off Tuesday, and will continue through May 15.
The annual campaign provides an opportunity for Soldiers to help their fellow Soldiers and creates a greater awareness and understanding of AER programs and benefits.
The fundraising goal for Hawaii's AER this year is $300,000. Last year, the campaign raised $325,000, locally.
AER is a private, nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to active duty Soldiers, single or married, and their family members; National Guard and Reserve Soldiers on continuous active duty for more than 30 days and their family members; retirees; and surviving spouses and orphans of Soldiers who died while on active duty or after they retired.
Since AER's founding, more than 3.3 million Soldiers and families have received more than $1.3 billion in support from AER.
In 2010, AER provided $69.7 million in no-interest loans and grants to relieve financial distress to 62,000 Soldiers and families. Last year in Hawaii, 2,439 Soldiers and family members were assisted with no-interest loans totaling $2,597,199, and grants totaling $77,372.
"You will need it one day; you won't know when," said Sgt. 1st Class Dennis Woodring, 163rd Transportation Detachment, 45th Sustainment Brigade, 8th Theater Sust. Command. "They were there for me when I needed them."
Woodring has donated to the program throughout his career, never expecting to be on the receiving end, but with the help of AER, he was able to give his wife a fitting final farewell that would not have been possible otherwise.
"It helped the whole family, and (it) helped me make everything perfect for her," he said.
Beyond emergency financial needs, AER also provides college scholarships to children, spouses and surviving spouses of Soldiers. In 2010, AER granted $7.9 million to help meet undergraduate-education needs, with 3,170 scholarships to children of Soldiers and 1,761 scholarships to spouses of Soldiers.
"The application process was really simple; I went to the AER website and filled out information about myself and what I do," said Nicole Roames, a past recipient of an AER scholarship.
She said the AER scholarship was the largest financial aid she received for that semester. Using the scholarship, she was able to complete the semester without any loans.
"Go for it! It's easier to try for a scholarship (now), than to deal with loans later on," Roames said.
During the AER campaign, unit points of contact will call upon Soldiers for donations, which are completely voluntary. Making donations is not a requirement to receiving AER assistance.
Donations can be made by allotment, cash or check, and all contributions are fully tax deductible.
Visit www.aerhq.org to donate. For AER assistance or questions, contact your unit chain of command or the installation AER section at 808-655-7132; after business hours, contact the American Red Cross at 877-272-7337.