Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society fund drive kicks-off March 1

ETC Arin Dickson, left and AWRC Matthew Owens are this year’s co-chairmen for the Navy-Marine Corps Society 2021 Active Duty Fund Drive, underway from March 1 through April.

The 2021 Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) Active Duty Fund Drive begins March 1 with a virtual kick-off that will include an email blast to personnel across NAS Patuxent River.

The purpose of the annual call for voluntary contributions to the NMCRS is to increase Navy and Marine Corps personnel awareness of the availability of financial assistance and services from the society, and also to obtain the funds that are essential for the society to continue providing assistance and services to service members in need.

“NAVAIR’s Vice Adm. Peters will be sending out a message as well as [NAS Patuxent River Commanding Officer] Capt. Brabazon,” said Maureen Farrell, director of the Patuxent River NMCRS office. “Because of COVID-19 restrictions, we have to take a different approach to the annual drive. We’ll flood everyone’s emails and social media with kickoff information.”

COVID-19 played a negative role in the 2020 campaign, with that fund drive’s efforts falling well short of expectations.

“It was really tough last year,” Farrell noted. “The fund drive began in March and then the world closed down. We collected about $64,000 at Pax River but we gave out more than $107,000 is assistance. We’d like to do better this year than last year.”

NMCRS never closed its office, but quickly moved to a virtual platform. Clients were seen by appointment only, paperwork and documentation was completed via email or online video chat, and in-office time was kept to a minimum to protect the office’s clients and volunteer staff.

“NMCRS headquarters initiated a new Rapid Response Loan up to $1,500 of assistance for clients with financial needs within NMCRS policy without a budget,” Farrell explained. “This new type of loan really made a big difference in our ability to assist clients safely. Even with the pandemic limiting people’s movement, our office still processed 137 emergency financial requests.”

NMCRS provides assistance to active duty and retired U.S. Navy and Marine Corps personnel and their eligible family members. Interest-free loans are available in crisis situations for costs associated with emergency travel, rent/mortgage, utilities, car repair, childcare, groceries, or other necessities of life.

Leading this year’s campaign, along with AWRC Matthew Owens, is NMCRS Fund Drive Co-Chairman ETC Aric Dickson, who wants to remind people at Pax River about the Sailors we sometimes forget.

“When you’re on shore duty, you sometimes don’t think of this, but there are a lot of deployed Sailors out there going through [financial difficulties] who are stuck in foreign countries or quarantined on ships,” Dickson said. “We’re asking people to help them.”

To make an online donation to NMCRS, go to www.nmcrs.org/adfd. Personnel from the NAVAIR-side can enter the UIC number 00019, or number 47608 from the NAS-side. Including the UIC number will assign the donation to a command at Patuxent River, as online donations without a UIC listed will not necessarily be credited locally. Either UIC can be used, Farrell noted.

Each command has its own NMCRS fund drive representative, and if personnel need to know who their representative is, or if they have any questions about the fund drive or online donations, they can contact Dickson at aric.dickson@navy.mil or (337) 255-0007; or contact Farrell at maureen.farrell@nmcrs.org or (301) 342-4739.

“We have Navy families struggling because spouses have lost jobs [during the pandemic], or they’ve moved and their pay has fallen a little behind,” Farrell added. “We can’t forget these families because they’re frontline workers too — prepared to go wherever they’re needed — and we have to make sure they’re safe and that their families are safe by providing them with financial fitness.”