By T. Anthony Bell, Fort Lee Public Affairs OfficeJune 4, 2008
Fort Lee, Va. (June 4, 2008) -- The Army Emergency Relief campaign recently ended at Fort Lee. The installation reached its goals for at least the ninth straight year, raising more than $94,000. That was more than $14,000 above its goal.
Those stellar numbers have a lot to do with a populace that is ingrained with the notion that the Army takes care of its own.
Advanced individual training Soldiers may or may not be considered a part of that group because they haven't been completely indoctrinated into the culture of giving back, much less the Army as a whole.
But don't tell that to the Soldiers of Company T, 266th Quartermaster Battalion.
Those warriors in training reached into their wallets, purses, bank accounts, piggy banks and more to give like seasoned Soldiers, filling the AER coffer with $10,000 in all.
No one around these parts can remember when one unit, much less an AIT company, gave so much for the organization that primarily supports Soldiers with hardships, said Gladys Jenkins, installation AER officer.
First Sgt. Jeffrey Campbell, the unit's top enlisted Soldier, can't really put his finger on the reason the unit dug so deep but suggests it was an appeal he gave during one of the daily fireside chats.
"I sat down and talked to the Soldiers about my experiences and some of the experiences of their battle buddies to the left and right that were able to utilize the AER, and that drove them to give," said the Soldier of 15 years.
Campbell, a man in his mid-30s and sporting a cleanly shaven head, didn't force his troops to respond. That's not his style.
Rather, standing on a sense of trust he has fostered with the troops, he drew upon their sense of Family.
"I was able to touch them in a way that a lot of people wouldn't be able to," he said. "I understand them and they understand me and maybe that's what did it."
Or maybe they had some personal experiences that convinced them to give. Pfc. Lisa Daugherty is one of those Soldiers.
"I grew up in Florida and we just went through all of the hurricanes," the 28-year-old Soldier said. "We saw the Army donate a lot of their time and support in the cleanup efforts, so when I came here, they said we have an AER that helps the troops, and I said 'Of course.'"
Daugherty donated funds over the course of a year as did many of her fellow Soldiers, including one private who gave somewhere near $2,000. The first sergeant had to retrace that one.
"It was so much I had to stop and go back to the Soldier," said Campbell. "I said, 'Why would you give so much' We can re-do it; maybe you need to think about this.
"The Soldier said, 'No, first sergeant. This is what I was inspired to give.'"
The Soldiers were moved to give quickly as well. All of Co. T's contributions occurred over a three-day period in the last week of the campaign.
"It was amazing," said Campbell. "I was impressed, very impressed."
Although the official AER campaign has ended, community members can still donate.
They can call (804) 734-7954 or visit www.aerhq.org. The Web site accepts one-time donations via credit card and allotments through payroll deduction.