TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
The 325th Operations Group and friends revved up their fundraising efforts as they got ready to hand out thousands of dollars in “free gas” through the annual 325th Operations Group Tyndall Random Acts of Kindness program.
The program is designed to put $20 in the tanks of Airmen E-4 and below, and their dependents, during a week before the holidays. This year, Dec. 4-8 were the chosen dates.
Members of the 325th OG and volunteers pumped gas at the Tyndall AAFES Main Gas station at random times, and this year Airmen were geared up as well.
“I have known about TRAKs, since it first started [four years ago] with the 325th Training Support Squadron,” said Airman 1st Class Jered Willman, 43rd Fighter Squadron aviation resource manager. “Once you know the time they are giving free gas, everyone gets cleared to go because it is something you can’t pass on.”
Even though Airmen know about TRAKs, the element of surprise still exists, because the details of when the gas will be pumped is not released until the day the program starts – and those benefiting had to keep an eye and ear out for Facebook updates, word of-mouth and other venues to know when that exact time was.
To get ready for the event, the squadrons held various fundraisers and took donations. The 325th TRSS got fired up at the Annual Chili Cook-off with a pie and cake auction, where the intake was more than $700 for the TRAKs program.
Along with AAFES, participants are: all of the 325th Operations Group, the 337th Air Control Squadron, the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group, the 44th Fighter Group, and the 301st Fighter Squadron, as well as single donors who give through their squadrons or at the event itself.
The main drive behind TRAKs is to give back to the young enlisted troops and their families.
“[Last year], the free gas helped me greatly, I didn’t have to pay for gas that whole holiday season,” said Senior Airman Donvin Farquharson, 95th Fighter Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment Technician. “[Getting gas] is one of those things you don’t worry about until you have to get it and then it is like, ‘oh man just another dollar out of my pocket.’”
But, TRAKs does not just leave an impression on the receiver, the people who volunteer also are inspired by the way to give back.
“It is inspiring how quickly volunteers offer time or donations to this event,” said Master Sgt. Bradley Anderson, 325th Training Support Squadron Superintendent. “OG TRAK's is getting bigger every year, and we are happy to be a part of it. I know that each tank of gas is a small gesture, but it's very nice to get face to face with our Airmen and just say thank you.”
Others who are inspired to give, have themselves been receivers of kindness in the past.
“You can always tell when this event impacts the right person at the right time,” said Col. Stahl, 325th TRSS commander. “Most compelling to me are the retired chiefs and colonels who pull up to the gas station and ask what OG TRAKS is doing. After hearing the intent, they tell me a story of when they were a young Airman and how someone showed kindness to them around the holidays, brightening their entire week. Because of that moment, they donate to our program just to continue paying it forward. All the money raised and donated goes right back to the Airmen here at Tyndall.”