The four military relief societies are once again engaging in a “friendly competition” to see who can raise the most donations on a single day: Giving Tuesday.
The relief societies — Air Force Aid Society, Army Emergency Relief, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance and Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society — help service members and their families with emergency relief, financial assistance and educational support.
Last year was the first year of the competition, and Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society won the bragging rights. Overall, the four congressionally-sanctioned 501c3 nonprofits raised nearly $1.25 million in last year’s Giving Tuesday campaign.
All four military aid societies have four-star ratings, the highest given by Charity Navigator. Giving Tuesday is a day of giving around the world, started in 2012, with untold numbers of charities urging people to donate to their causes.
Lockheed Martin will match every gift made to the military aid societies, up to $1 million. Those wishing to donate to one of the relief societies on that day are asked to visit Battle4BraggingRights.com and designate their gift to one of the four nonprofits.
The nonprofits’ offices are usually located on military installations. They provide grants and interest-free loans, to help service members and their families in need. They provide a variety of programs and services, such as emergency relief, disaster assistance, financial assistance, scholarships and other support.
The military relief societies have long stepped in to help service members and families with a variety of emergency financial assistance, such as car repairs, travel for unexpected events such as funerals and basic living expenses such as rent and utilities.
But recently, relief society programs have also targeted the cost of shipping infant formula, the costs to get housing in this highly competitive market, and the high cost of shipping pets to and from overseas on permanent change of station orders. They’ve helped families in Hawaii with costs associated with dealing with the tainted water supply.
The oldest of the military aid societies is Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, which was established in 1904.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.