By Arica Goulet, Contributing Writer
For the ninth straight year, Sailors and Marines stationed at NAS Whidbey Island exceeded raising more than $200,000 in donations during the annual Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) Fund Drive.
NMCRS recently wrapped up its 2013 NMCRS Fund Drive at the air station, bringing in a total of $235,523.17 in donations, the fourth largest in NAS Whidbey Island history.
“We are truly successful for one reason, our dedicated volunteers who donate their time to the Sailors and Marines here.”
Since its founding in 1904, NMCRS’s vision has been to remain a private, non-profit, volunteer, service organization. It currently has more than 3,400 volunteers in 51 offices worldwide. Elton Gifford, NAS Whidbey Island’s NMCRS Director, said VP-1, VP-46, VAQ -140 and VAQ 129 collectively raised over $60,077, and were absolutely instrumental in making this year’s drive a success.
A key volunteer in this year’s drive was the NMCRS fund drive coordinator, Hospital Corpsman Chief (SW/AW/FMF) George Conroy. Conroy and his team from Naval Hospital Oak Harbor took on the task of obtaining 100 percent command contact and reporting the results from all commands assigned to NAS Whidbey Island. Conroy and his team were instrumental in exceeding this year’s fund drive goal.
Another key player in this year’s drive, and long-time NMCRS supporter and fundraising volunteer, was Air Traffic Control Chief (AW) Wanita Brown, who raised over $11,000. NAS Whidbey Island’s Security Department also played an important role in this year’s fund drive events. Master-at-Arms Chief (SW) Jason Willoughby and a team of base security personnel seamlessly ran a golf tournament that raised over $3,000, while Master-at-Arms 1st Class David Nolf oversaw an “Outside the Gate” fundraiser that brought in more than $1,700.
Numerous other commands, clubs and individuals also helped in this year’s fund drive. According to Gifford, it comes down to one critical aspect. “We are truly successful for one reason, our dedicated volunteers who donate their time to the Sailors and Marines here,” said Gifford.
Last year, NAS Whidbey Island NMCRS office’s volunteers provided non-financial services as well as financial services to 1,200 Sailors, Marines, and their family members totaling more than $500,000.
NAS Whidbey Island’s NMCRS has one of the largest Thrift Shops overseen by the society, which enables service members and their families to purchase used clothing, uniforms and household items at nominal cost. Anyone can volunteer with NMCRS, even those not affiliated with the military, and it is a great way to show appreciation to service men and women. More information on NMCRS programs is available at www.nmcrs.org. For those who would like to volunteer their services, please call (360) 257-2728.
A donation of over $235,000 is presented to Elton Gifford, NAS Whidbey Island’s Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) director, by (from left) Lt. Cmdr. Chris Morrison, Naval Hospital Oak Harbor; Chief Aviation Maintenance Administrationman (AW/SW) Corey Baker, VAQ-140; Navy Counselor 1st Class (AW/SW) Diedre McFarlane, VAQ-129; Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/AW/FMF) George Conroy II, NMCRS fund drive coordinator. Not pictured from the event: Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Relita Ochoa, Naval Hospital Oak Harbor; and Chief Air Traffic Controller (AW/SW) Juanita Brown, NAS Operations. (Navy photo by Mike Welding.)