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Air Force Assistance Fund helps those in need

The Air Force kicked off the Air Force Assistance Fund Monday, March 21, 2016. AFAF is about Air Force people taking care of their own… Airmen helping Airmen. The AFAF has four charitable affiliates: Air Force Enlisted Village, LeMay Foundation, Air Force Villages Charitable Foundation and Air Force Aid Society. (Courtesy graphic)

The Air Force kicked off the Air Force Assistance Fund Monday, March 21, 2016. AFAF is about Air Force people taking care of their own… Airmen helping Airmen. The AFAF has four charitable affiliates: Air Force Enlisted Village, LeMay Foundation, Air Force Villages Charitable Foundation and Air Force Aid Society. (Courtesy graphic)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The Air Force Assistance Fund kicked off Air Force-wide March 21. AFAF is about Air Force people taking care of their own, or Airmen Helping Airmen. The goal is to raise $6.78 million across the entire Air Force, a full $1 million more than last year's goal and $300,000 more than donations received last year. At Schriever, the goal is to collect $36,498 in donations.

The AFAF is made up of four charitable affiliates: Air Force Enlisted Village, LeMay Foundation, Air Force Villages Charitable Foundation and Air Force Aid Society.
Chief Master Sgt. John Bentivegna, 50th Space Wing command chief, noted the importance of the AFAF mission.

"Serving in the Air Force, being an Airman is not a job, it's a way of life and that life sometimes presents challenges that require us to look to a wingman for support," said Bentivegna. "The AFAF is just that: a constant resource we can go to for help and support."

Master Sgt. Paul Gingras, AFAF installation project officer, has had some help from AFAF in the past.

"My wife and I received bed linen, burp cloths and a few other essentials for new parents through their Bundles for Babies program," he said. "My wife also benefitted from the car care program during some of my deployments. The program provided vehicle safety inspections and a free oil change for our primary vehicle during my absence."

Gingras said the purpose of the fund is to "provide support to Airman and their families - active duty and retired, officers and enlisted for emergency needs, educational assistance and dignity to Air Force widows and widowers."

"The Air Force Assistance Fund," Bentivegna said, "is an annual effort to raise funds for the four charitable affiliates that provide support to our Air Force family in need. The charitable affiliate organizations provide support in an emergency, with educational needs or a secure retirement home for widows or widowers of our Air Force members in need of financial assistance."

The four affiliates within the fund accomplish this mission in complimentary ways.

The Air Force Enlisted Village exists to provide homes to those in need. Their priority is surviving spouses of retired enlisted Airmen, however they do serve the whole Air Force family.

The LeMay Foudation has been around since 1992 to help keep spouses in their home. The foundation accomplishes this through monthly support for day-to-day living expenses.

The Air Force Villages Charitable Foundation cares for retired Air Force officers' widowed spouses who need financial assistance. According to their website, they provide, "a safe, comfortable environment where widow(er)s are surrounded by friends in a home they cannot provide for themselves."

Lastly, but certainly not least, is the Air Force Aid Society. They help by providing emergency assistance and proactive community programs.
Another Schriever Airman who received help from AFAF is Staff Sgt. Candis Burch, 50th Security Forces Squadron response force leader. Burch was presented with a grant after she applied for a loan. She was surprised but very grateful for the services AFAF provided.

"I used them last year. My great-grandmother died, she was the one who primarily raised me because my mother worked at night," said Burch. "I went to them to see if I could get a loan, but they actually gave me a grant. They paid for everything including flights and gave me $300 for miscellaneous expenses like transportation."

The AFAF has been known to help Airman in a variety of situations that would otherwise be difficult to handle. Burch experienced this help firsthand when she contacted the AFAF and was relieved with the easy application process.

"I would definitely recommend it...it's not just used for a death in the family it can be used for a variety of things like getting new tires on your vehicle or extra cash," said Burch. "The process isn't hard, it's easy to do, and the people are willing to help you. And if you get a loan, you don't have to pay interest on it. I think it's important because it's for us. It's designed for military people."

To apply online, visit www.afassistancefund.org. For more information, contact Gingras at 719-567-4071.
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