By and large, the military relies on its own. Sure, that adage isn’t always true, but communities are often tight and ready to support a member in need however they are able.

U.S. Air Forces in Europe communities recently put that ethos to work, generating more than $791,000 as part of the 34th annual Air Force Assistance Fund campaign.

The fundraiser, which began at varying times on USAFE bases in late February and early March, and mostly ended this month, benefits a variety of Air Force related charities.

The Air Force Aid Society, the official charity of the service, provides all types of help for the Air Force community, from worldwide emergency assistance to sponsoring educational programs and community initiatives. Other organizations that benefit from the campaign include programs for widowed Air Force spouses and retired airmen from the enlisted and commissioned ranks.

Each unit had a go-to person for the campaign, and Master Sgt. John Peters of the USAFE public affairs division was a representative for 77 PA airmen.

“We did outstanding, that’s for sure,” Peters said of the campaign in general. “I would attribute it to the pure nature of this campaign, being airmen helping airmen. We’re all going through a lot and are stretched thin because of this war. And we have a lot of folks who are in dire need of assistance.”

Programs that cover airmen who need to visit a sick family member or who have an emergency car breakdown are fed donations from the campaign, to name a few, and it’s never certain when such emergency assistance might be needed, he said.

The Ramstein Air Base community led the way in terms of money raised, bringing in more than $269,000 from 2,850 donors. The base’s goal before the drive was about $161,000.

RAF Lakenheath, England, and Spandahlem Air Base in Germany also brought in six-figure donations.

And with less than 300 people donating, Lajes Field in The Azores brought in about $26,000, nearly double their goal.

“It’s an investment in the future,” Peters said of the USAFE generosity. “That’s always in the back of your mind. It could be me who is unfortunate this year.”

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