With talk of sequestration, cutbacks and furlough, it may seem like an odd time in the nation’s history to talk about giving money to a charitable organization. Messages from Washington don’t inspire hope for a better or brighter future.
But this is also when service members help each other out. While the rest of the country may worry about how bad things are, service members step up and ask how they can help. Service members have a unique opportunity during the Air Force Assistance Fund campaign to directly improve one or more of their fellow member’s lives.
Every April, the Air Force kicks off its annual Air Force Aid Society charity drive. The AFAS is an official charity dating back to 1942. The AFAS mission is to help relieve financial distress of Airmen and their families and to assist them in financing their higher education goals. AFAS accomplishes its mission by providing interest-free loans and grants for short-term or one-time emergencies, such as food, rent and utilities. It can also help with car repair and emergency travel requirements.
There have been stories told of other charitable organizations collecting money but not distributing very much of that money to the people they are supposed to help. This is definitely not the case for the AFAS; every dollar donated supports AFAS emergency assistance, education and community enhancement programs.
In 2012, AFAS provided more than $17.8 million in support to 40,000 Airmen and their families. That $17.8 million was broken down into $10.1 million in emergency assistance going toward funeral expenses or emergency travel; $5.8 million in education programs like education grants or spouse tuition assistance; and $1.9 million in community outreach programs like Give Parents a Break and phone cards for deployed Airmen.
That sounds great on paper, but who gets the assistance? Eighty-nine percent of emergency assistance dollars went to active-duty members and their families in grades E-6 and below.
If 50 percent active duty participation is achieved in this drive, AFAS will award a cash reward to Ramstein.
The charity drive is currently happening. Each squadron has a representative in charge of contacting its members and providing information about the drive. Take time to donate something. If everyone sacrificed the price of one fast-food meal a month, it would be easy to meet or exceed the charity’s goal.