2010 AFAF campaign to start at RAFL
Col. Jay Silveria (right), 48th Fighter Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. James Lucas, 48th FW command chief, sign donation sheets for the 2010 Air Force Assistance Fund. The drive will run on RAF Lakenheath from March 29 to May 7, and the wing's goal is to raise $76,000. Last year almost $300,000 was returned to Liberty Airmen with only $75,000 donated. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Eboni Knox)
by Tech. Sgt. Chris Stagner
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
3/25/2010 - ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Liberty Warriors will have the opportunity to contribute to charities that directly affect them March 29 when the 2010 Air Force Assistance Fund campaign starts at RAF Lakenheath.
The campaign allows Airmen to support the Air Force Aid Society, Air Force Village Foundation, Gen. and Mrs. Curtis E. LeMay Foundation and the Air Force Enlisted Village.
"This is one of the two big fund drives in which the Air Force is involved annually," said Master Sgt. Jeffrey Whiting, 48th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Loading Standardization team chief and AFAF project officer. "Unlike the Combined Federal Campaign, though, these charities are all created by Airmen, for Airmen."
Considered by many to be one of the biggest supporters of Airmen; especially younger Airmen, is the AFAS.
"This is one of the few Air Force-wide fund raisers that effects us directly, whether it be through emergency aid or the Spouses Tuition Assistance Program, we at Lakenheath directly reap the benefits of this campaign," said Sergeant Whiting. "Last year alone, Airmen here received almost $300,000 in grants to help with living expenses and education."
The charity's helping hand goes beyond daily expenses. They offer services ranging from respite -- a program designed to assist Airmen family members who require 24-hour care -- to helping Airmen recover from disasters.
"It's really here to help Airmen maintain a solid home life so the mission can be accomplished," said Master Sgt. Donald Hill, 48th Security Forces Squadron Reports and Administration chief and assistant AFAF project officer.
The Air Force Village Foundation, available to servicemembers from all branches who retire with honorable service once they turn 62 years of age, has two residential communities that offer an active, independent lifestyle in a pleasant environment with care available for the rest of their lives. Both villages are accredited by the Continuing Care Accreditation Commission, according to the Web site - http://www.airforcevillages.com/.
The villages also offer the Freedom House, a specially designed facility dedicated to research and caring for persons with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.
The Gen. and Mrs. Curtis E. LeMay Foundation provides financial assistance to widows of Air Force retirees. The assistance is not a loan; it is provided in the form of a grant and does not require reimbursement.
The Air Force Enlisted Village was established in 1967 to provide a safe and secure living environment to indigent spouses of retired Air Force Airmen. Spouses are accepted on a greatest-need basis, and no one is denied due to financial status.
"These charities were started by Airmen for Airmen," said Sergeant Hill. "Each one was developed to, at some level, increase the quality of life for us from the day we enter the Air Force until the day we no longer need them. This isn't just a sign we put up at the post office. This is something the community actually gets back in return."
Lakenheath Airmen raised $75,000 in 2009 to help with these programs. The goal for 2010 is $76,000.
"We're doing everything we can to make contributing to these charities as easy as possible for everyone," said Sergeant Whiting. "The morning it officially starts, we'll have a donut drive through in the commissary parking lot. All anyone has to do is pull in, fill out the donation sheet, get a few donuts and drive away. It's that easy. We're also setting up tables at the BX on April 16 and 30 so people can have convenient access to us."
Those won't be the only opportunities for Airmen to contribute.
"Each unit also has a representative, so Airmen who want to donate from their places of work can do so," said Sergeant Hill.
The fund drive will run until May 7.