By Halle Thornton
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Schriever Air Force Base kicked off its Air Force Assistance Fund campaign March 18, which will continue until April 26.
The AFAF campaign is an annual, on-the-job fundraiser conducted by Airmen for the benefit of Airmen, providing financial support to four AFAF affiliates, including the Air Force Aid Society, the Air Force Village Charitable Foundation, the Air Force Enlisted Village and the General Curtis E. LeMay Foundation.
“These charities consistently care for Airmen and their families during times of deployment, financial stress, natural disasters and individual and family emergencies,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright. “No other campaign is strictly for Airmen, by Airmen.”
Although the overall goal of the campaign is to raise $5.6 million, Master Sgt. John Sperling, 4th Space Operations Squadron flight chief and AFAF campaign manager, said the suggested goal for Team Schriever is $29,962.
“We’d like to focus on 100 percent contact and education of what the AFAF is and what it does for us,” he said. “The AFAF is unlike any other charity as it focuses on us, active duty members and retirees. It’s ‘by us, for us.’”
The Air Force Aid Society has three major missions: emergency financial assistance to Airmen and their families, educational support and community enhancement programs.
For more than 75 years, the AFAS has provided Airmen financial relief during emergencies, and helped fund college tuition for spouses and dependent children through scholarship programs.
“AFAS community enhancement programs vary from base to base, but at Schriever they include Bundles for Babies, Give Parents a Break, Childcare for PCS and Volunteers, Heartlink and Car Care because We Care,” Sperling said.
Wright said Air Force families’ needs spiked in 2018 following natural disasters like Hurricane Michael.
“The need is real and impacts our readiness,” he said. “After the hurricane hit Tyndall AFB, many of our Airmen were left without a home and in great financial need.”
Wright explained the AFAS provided Airmen and families with more than $6 million in assistance in the first three weeks following Hurricane Michael.
The Air Force Village Charitable Foundation provides financial support for surviving spouses of Officers.
Donations support Blue Skies of Texas, a full-spectrum care campus offering independent living homes, assisted living facilities and memory and nursing care.
“The AFVCF takes care of their residents like family and is conveniently located near Joint Base San Antonio Lackland,” Sperling said. “Their mission is “to provide a home,” and like the AFVCF for surviving spouses of officers, the Air Force Enlisted Village will make sure nobody is ever turned away due to an inability to pay to live at the village.”
In 2018 alone, the Enlisted Village provided $755,000 in financial support through the AFEV’s Benevolence Program to surviving spouses in need.
“The AFEV set up a collection point, gathered household and food items and cash donations valued at three hundred and sixty seven thousand to aid local Airmen and retirees,” Wright said. “This support demonstrates how the Air Force Assistance Fund charities care for the entire Air Force family and exemplifies the campaign’s motto for Airmen, by Airmen.”
Both charities provide surviving spouses a home with like-minded Air Force family members located near military medical facilities and benefits like the commissary and base exchange.
Since 1987, the LeMay Foundation has helped more than 1,000 Air Force Retirees’ widows and widowers pay for one-time emergency expenses as well as recurring expenses like minor home repairs, dental and medical needs.
The foundation provides assistance through monetary grants that don’t need to be paid back.
“The LeMay Foundation is here so our surviving spouses can remain living in their own home with the dignity they deserve after standing with us all those years while we were in the Air Force,” Sperling said. “Most of their donations come from us active duty Airmen.”
Sperling said the charities are about Airmen taking care of Airmen, which falls in line with the 50th Space Wing priority, “Take care of our Airmen and families always.”
“This is something we’ve done our whole careers,” he said. “When a tragedy hits, we have a natural feeling to help, but may feel powerless due to the magnitude. This is a way for us to rally behind our Airmen in need and do something about it.”
“As you consider where you will send your donation dollars in 2019, we ask you to continue our long Air Force tradition of taking care of our own by considering giving to the campaign,” Wright said.