FORT CARSON, Colo. -- The Fort Carson community raised more than $249,700 for the national Army Emergency Relief campaign, which took place March 1 to June 15.

"We surpassed our goal," said Fred Lewis, AER officer at Fort Carson.

Although donations are collected yearlong, campaign officials had hoped to raise $200,000 during the campaign and exceeded their goal by nearly 25 percent. Lewis said that units will be recognized for their efforts in August.

The money collected benefits hundreds of servicemembers and their loved ones.

"This is about Soldiers helping Soldiers," said Mary Braxton, financial readiness manager for Army Community Service. "Without assistance from the campaign, AER would not be able to help."

Braxton estimated that AER gave out $1.5 million in assistance to 1,500 people in 2011 for various needs including rent and utilities assistance, medical expenses, emergency travel, food and funeral expenses.

"AER always tries to say yes to a request," she said.

Family members and Soldiers needing assistance may apply for interest-free loans as well as grants through AER. Grants and loans do not cover nonessentials, legal expenses, vehicle purchase or lease or credit card bills.

Beginning in 1942, AER is a nonprofit dedicated to helping Soldiers and their loved ones. According to its website, the organization does not accept government funds and operates through contributions from Soldiers and civilians, repayment of AER loans and investment income.

AER operates 86 stations at Army installations around the world. The nonprofit partners with similar organizations, such as the Air Force Aid Society, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and the American Red Cross, to make sure all Soldiers and Family members are cared for.

"You never know when you may need assistance," Braxton said. "AER is always available to assist Soldiers."