MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- The Navy Marine Corps Relief Society’s annual active duty fund drive kicks off March 1 and runs through the end of the month aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.
The purpose of the fund drive is to educate Marines and sailors about the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and to gain essential working capital for its operations through donations. The NMCRS is a nonprofit organization established to help active duty service members, retirees and family members by offering financial assistance. In an emergency, the society can provide assistance for funeral expenses, disaster relief assistance or medical co-pays. Additionally, the society offers budget counseling, financial management and loans.
“We all realize we have needs and fall into bad times,” said Cmdr. Alejandro Alvarado, the fund drive manager for 2014. “These kinds of things happen so we do this drive to help the Marines and sailors.”
Last year, 65,358 Marines, sailors and families throughout the Department of the Navy received more than $49 million in financial assistance. Nearly 2,000 Marines, sailors and families throughout Cherry Point received more than $700 thousand in financial assistance. Donations supported various needs including airfare and travel expenses during emergency leave and essential vehicle repairs.
“Our main goal is to help all those under financial stress,” said Vicki Wilson, the director of Cherry Point’s NMCRS. “Also, it’s always nice to know that if your car breaks down, especially in an area like this with no public transportation, you can come to us for help with those little emergencies.”
Wilson says that the organization has grown exponentially in the 30 years she has worked for the NMCRS and that is due to Marines and sailors giving back during the fund drive.
The most notable change that has caught Wilson’s eye is the quick assist loan. The quick assist loan is an interest-free loan of up to $500 with no application fee that is only offered to active duty service members. Individuals applying for the loan must bring their leave and earnings statement, cannot owe any money to the NMCRS, must have four months left on their enlistment and cannot have had a “no payment due” in the previous six months prior to applying.
“What we can offer the service members has expanded so much since I first started, and we owe that to donations,” said Wilson. “We want the Marines to know about our society so they can get help.”
There are different options available for donations during the fund drive. The preferred, convenient and most error-free way to donate is through an allotment. Marines with an end of active service date greater than three months from when the drive starts, can log onto Marine Online and set an allotment to support the NMCRS. Paper form allotments are also available and can be obtained through unit representatives. Additionally, anyone interested in making a donation can log onto www.nmcrsfunddrive.org and make a one-time donation via credit card or set up an allotment. Finally, cash and check donations are also accepted. Contribution forms should be filled out in every case to keep track of command credit.
“Every year, we provide nearly $50 million to support our service members,” said Wilson.
Wilson urges Marines and sailors to seek assistance if they are falling under financial pressure.
“Don’t be embarrassed because I have a wonderful group of volunteers who will make you feel like you’re at home,” she said. “They have all been there and know what it’s like to ask for help. We just try to make everyone feel welcome that comes in.”
For more information about the fund drive or the NMCRS, see your unit representative or visit www.nmcrsfunddrive.org.