Enlisted families surprised by Random Acts of Kindness

by Senior Airman John Linzmeier, 18th Wing Public Affairs
Kadena Air Base

Kadena Air Base, Japan -- Members of the Okinawa Enlisted Spouses' Club have been surprising military families here with random acts of kindness in hopes of furthering the trend of giving during the holiday season.

Volunteers from the OESC visited various military installations on island, offering to purchase simple things such as haircuts, meals, tanks of gas or even a cart full of groceries for enlisted family members from all U.S. branches of service.

"The basic idea of Random Acts of Kindness is to give back to our enlisted community for their service to us," said Victor Colon, OESC vice president. "It's awesome to see people smile and appreciate what our organization is all about."

The project started in December 2013, when spouses distributed more than $1,500 toward random military families and upwards of $2,000 in December 2014. This year's fund has grown to more than $6,000 and has been shared with families since the week of Thanksgiving.

"They really caught me off guard," said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Edward Fisk, Command Fleet Activities Okinawa airspace scheduler. "When they offered to pay for my drink, I was completely surprised. It really brightens your day when something like that happens, so little things like that really do matter."

Smiles and hugs were frequently exchanged between spouses and recipients of the random acts and occasionally tears of joy were shed, said Colon.

In the spirit of giving, Chief Master Sergeants Charles Hoffman, 18th Wing command chief, and Gilbert Edwards, 353rd Special Operations Group command chief, spent their afternoon making purchases for patrons at the Base Exchange.

"The opportunity to give back and help raise morale over the holiday season is super important," said Hoffman, "especially with the sacrifices that our military members and family members make, coming from an overseas assignment like Okinawa."

Funds for RAOK have been raised throughout the year by the OESC's non-profit thrift stores, located on various military installations.

"I think that if we can affect just a few people through just a few small acts, then they can pay it forward and affect a bigger population of people," said Colon. "We definitely see this going further than if we were to make just one massive donation."

After giving away $6,000 to hundreds of unsuspecting families, all the OESC members asked for in return was that their recipients and supporters pay it forward and implement their own random acts of kindness this holiday season.

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