by Ryan Labadens, U.S. Navy Public Affairs

The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) wrapped up its support to the annual Active Duty Fund Drive, which lasted from March 1 – April 30, 2021 this year, with commands across Mississippi raising a total of $84,008 dollars for the state of Mississippi alone.

This is an 86% increase over what was collected last year for the state of Mississippi, said Bill Whitmire, NMCRS Gulfport director, and NCBC Gulfport.

“Our commands collectively were in  the top five  locations worldwide in terms of how well we did compared to last year…and we’re one of only seven bases in the world that beat 2019’s donations, a ‘normal’ year,” said Whitmire, who noted donations worldwide saw a roughly 50% drop in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whitmire expressed his appreciation to all those who made contributions to NMCRS through the fund drive this year as well as to the various Navy and Marine Corps commands onboard NCBC and other Mississippi installations who informed their personnel about the fund drive.

“A special thanks to all those commands who figured out ways to make that 100%-meaningful contact despite the pandemic, sharing the message of what Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society can do for our Sailors, Marines and their families,” said Whitmire, expressing his appreciation to commands at NCBC Gulfport, Stennis Space Center and Naval Air Station Meridian, just to name a few. “Over the last two months during the fund drive, when we asked Sailors and Marines when they came in the door how they heard about us, most of them were telling us they found out about us through their commands during the fund drive. That’s the number one benefit we had this year: we got the message out and we’re seeing clients who are asking for assistance when they need it.”

According to the NMRCS website, the active-duty fund drive has two primary purposes: 1) to raise awareness of the programs and services available to active-duty Sailors and Marines; and 2) to raise funds to support the programs and services offered by the NMCRS.

Whitmire said that the Navy Exchange (NEX) Mini-Mart onboard the Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) in Gulfport, Mississippi, played a huge role in collecting a majority of the funds the NEX locations in Mississippi donated this year.

The Navy Exchange command worldwide held a fund drive of their own in support of NMCRS through ticket sales, where customers could pay five dollars for a ticket that would contribute five dollars toward the NMCRS fund drive and give the customers both five dollars off and five percent off their next purchase. In all, the NEXs in Mississippi  raised $5,130 worth of tickets, and those funds all went toward Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society active-duty fund drive.

“We want to thank you all for your donation to a great cause,” said Curtis Patterson, NCBC Gulfport NEX Mini-Mart store manager, expressing his appreciation to customers who contributed to the fund drive.

He also wanted to thank Angela Perkins, NCBC Gulfport NEX Mini-Mart supervisor, for taking the lead on the ticket-sale initiative in their store.

The NMCRS website states that the mission of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is to provide, in partnership with the Navy and Marine Corps, financial, educational, and other assistance to members of the Naval Services of the United States, eligible family members, and survivors when in need; and to receive and manage funds to administer these programs.

The NCBC Gulfport NMCRS branch is located in the Fleet and Family Support Center (Bldg. 30) onboard the Seabee base and can be reached at 228-871-2610.