NAVAL AIR STATION SIGONELLA, Italy – Every year between March and April, Marines and sailors participate in an annual fund drive for the Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society.
The NMCRS provides financial assistance to service members with the Navy and Marine Corps, their family members, widows and survivors.
According to 1st Lt. Wes Roberts, the adjutant for Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa 14 and the NMCRS fund drive unit coordinator for 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, this year the task force raised $1,844 in allotments and cash donations. In the three years that he has been the fund drive coordinator for the unit, the battalion has donated $32,800.
“This is my third year running the fund drive for the battalion,” he said. “What’s important to know here, is that the battalion is currently deployed in a unique capacity. We have Marines spread through Italy, Tripoli, Romania, different countries in Africa and Camp Lejeune.
“Something that we’ve been able to accomplish is 100% contact for every Marine in every location,” Roberts continued. “So every Marine was given the opportunity to donate. So our Marines up in Romania had just as much opportunity to donate as our Marines back in Camp Lejeune.”
According to Roberts, the hardest part was organizing the information into a presentation that can be easily delivered to Marines in remote locations.
“You can’t necessarily e-mail a power point presentation to someone in Uganda,” he said. “You can’t deliver controlled forms to a team in Togo, but you can consolidate information and give links and other ways to donate to the Marines, rather than to just say ‘they’re deployed, we can’t reach them.’ We are making sure they get equal opportunity to donate where ever they are.”
Roberts said that donating money isn’t the battalion’s main goal for the fund drive, but that their primary motivation is awareness for the unit and letting the Marines know what the society offers.
“The society offers anything from quick assist loans, grants, classes and assistance for new parents,” he said. “There may be a point where someone you know will be in need of this help. Whether they’re about to have a kid and they don’t know what to do or how to change a diaper or they’ve been affected by a natural disaster. So it’s a great opportunity to take care of the Marine to your left and right.”
Roberts says he enjoys volunteering as the unit coordinator for the society because of all the good work the society does for Marines and sailors.
He said he has used the help from the relief society as well. He used it once early on in his career when he first enlisted and was attending his military occupational specialty school after his uncle passed away. He used the relief society again during a hurricane that came through the Camp Lejeune area in 2011.
“Personally, I know that every dollar that’s donated goes to Marines and sailors and their families that are in need,” Roberts said. “It’s a chance to give money to someone you may know and actually work with, somebody in our shops, somebody turning the wrenches, somebody pulling the triggers, maybe me or maybe you.”
According to Roberts, the NMCRS offers Marines an opportunity to help each other. As he put it, “that’s really what makes it important.”
Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa 14 is the newest rotation of Marines and sailors to arrive at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, to stage and prepare for theater security cooperation missions into various countries in Africa. This iteration is comprised of Marines and sailors from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, permanently based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.