NMCRS Active Duty Fund Drive extended
By Christine Cabalo
| Marine Corps Base Hawaii | April 18, 2014
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society
If potential donors had any doubts about whether Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society needs their help, then a talk with Cpl. Astin Crawford can set them straight.
When the mother of his 4-year-old son died unexpectedly, he found himself in need of child care, a new apartment and other living necessities.
“I didn’t have a place to stay because I was in the barracks at the time,” said Crawford, of Montclair, N.J., and a Marine with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. “(The society) helped me find a place with cheaper rent too. They got me a loan more than the amount they are normally authorized to give, because they were able to call their headquarters for permission.”
Crawford said he’s not sure what he would have done without help from NMCRS. He is one of several people encouraging donors to help the society during its fund drive, which is now extended to April 30.
“Marines and sailors who really understand about the program know that even if you aren’t using the services now, you may need it later,” said Cheryl Milca, Kaneohe Bay Branch director of NMCRS. “People need to know there’s an alternative to high-interest or payday loans.”
Milca said the society pushed back the end of the drive so volunteers can reach out to every Marine and sailor in their unit to inform them of their services. She said the society’s main goal is to get 100 percent contact.
In 2013, volunteers raised just 30 percent of the more than $531,940 distributed to Marines and sailors for financial assistance at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. The Kaneohe Bay branch can seek out help from the society’s headquarters for additional funds, but Milca said any donation makes a big difference locally.
“I tell people if you can give up one cup of coffee every pay period, in a year you’d have donated $120,” Milca said. “The amount may not seem like a lot, but it can help get someone get home quickly in an emergency, repair their car or pay for unexpected funeral costs.”
The society offers both low-cost financial assistance and monetary education. Milca said volunteers during every fund drive remind potential donors that NMCRS services can help Marines, sailors and their immediate members.
Gabriela Theall, who recently attended the society’s “Budget for Baby” class, said both the staff’s information and financial support for her first child were invaluable.
“The impact of budgeting was important,” said Theall, the spouse of a Marine stationed with Combat Logistics Battalion 3. “(We looked at costs for) rent and groceries. I never thought about how much we spent eating out, rather than eating in. The class was a real eye opener.”
Milca said the society’s clients often come to the office in emergency situations. She said society volunteers are trained to help empower their clients during a potentially difficult personal time.
“When they come in, their minds can be frazzled,” Milca said. “We help them deal with any necessary financial issues so they can focus on other things they may need to do.”
Crawford said the NMCRS staff went beyond helping him financially, even providing household goods and recommending free family activities to do with his son. He said the society’s staff was his family’s biggest supporter when he found himself in a financially and emotionally difficult situation, and he appreciates how they helped him in such a short time.
Crawford said he encourages anyone to support the society because the NMCRS staff is readily available to support Marines, sailors and their families who may need emergency financial help.
“(The society doesn’t) have endless pockets,” Crawford said. “They are no magic money tree. But if you can spare money to put into a bucket for the society, then you can help them so they can help more people.”