National Commander Dan Dellinger set a $1 million fundraising goal for The American Legion’s National Emergency Fund (NEF) during his year as head of the nation’s largest veterans service organization.

“It’s a very lofty goal, but one that equates to about 50 cents per member,” Dellinger told delegates gathered at the Legion’s national convention in Houston. “We can do it.”

NEF donations are used to provide immediate financial grants to Legion Family members who have been victimized by a natural disaster such as a hurricane, tornado, flooding or wildfire. Throughout its history, the NEF has provided more than $8 million in direct financial assistance to Legion Family members and posts. The fund has kept posts from closing and enabled Legion Family members to begin to rebuild their homes and their lives.

For example, from September 2012 through August 2013, there were 793 NEF grants handed out to Legion Family members and 18 to posts for a total of $751,147. The bulk of those donations went to victims of Superstorm Sandy in New York and New Jersey, and the May tornadoes in Moore, Okla.

Overall, there were 429 grants totaling $428,087 given to those affected by Superstorm Sandy. In Oklahoma, 264 grants totaling $242,050 were distributed.

Dellinger encourages posts to take an active role in raising funds for the NEF by holding a motorcycle rally, a fish fry, golf outing or restaurant dine-in. Posts are encouraged to consider partnering with an Auxiliary unit, Sons squadron or Riders chapter to get more involvement and promote the event more effectively.

One hundred percent of donations to NEF go toward grants for Legionnaires, posts and family members who are dealing with the after-effects of an emergency situation. All marketing and promotional costs are paid out of a separate fund by National Headquarters.