Fill ‘er up

Air Base refuels cars instead of planes for United Way

John Rhoton “Has gas” for a good cause during last year’s Gas Day promotion for United Way.

John Rhoton “Has gas” for a good cause during last year’s Gas Day promotion for United Way.

On a typical Friday, Capt. Joseph Keith would be refueling military aircraft.

But this Friday, Capt. Keith will be refueling cars.

Lots and lots of cars.

Capt. Keith with the Tennessee Air National Guard’s 134th Air Refueling Wing is organizing volunteers from McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base to assist with United Way of Blount County’s Gas Day fundraiser.

Gas Day is a one-day event where Calloway Oil, Downey Oil, McNutt Oil and Townsend IGA will donate a portion of the day’s gasoline sales to United Way of Blount County.

This year’s United Way Gas Day is Friday, Oct. 22.

Volunteers will be stationed at 13 area E-Z Stop, KenJo Market, Mr. Gas, On-the-Run, and Townsend Village Market IGA locations for the event, where they will pump gas, clean windshields and promote United Way to patrons.

Starting at 7 a.m. until late in the afternoon, Capt. Keith and his team of volunteers from McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base will be working at the E-Z Stop at 2758 Alcoa Highway.

“We’re excited about coming out for Gas Day,” Capt. Keith said. “We hope we can help United Way raise as much as they possibly can because we know it’s going to a worthy cause, and it’s going to be used very well.”

Gas Day utilizes over 300 volunteers during the event, and last year the event raised over $10,000 for United Way’s fall campaign.

For Capt. Keith Gas Day is not only about refueling a few cars, but about refueling his team’s community mindedness.

“We try to give back to the community as much as possible,” Capt. Keith said. “This is a way for us to take that total force - that teamwork effort - and apply it to the local community and give back to those who have shown us the care and the respect and the admiration for what we do and the service for our country.”

Working with volunteers from McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, Capt. Keith will draw from the Training and Education Center, 572nd Air Force Band, 119th Command and Control Squadron, 228th Combat Communications Squadron, Army Aviation Support Facility, and his own 134th Air Refueling Wing.

Capt. Keith hopes to have over 30 volunteers at his station.

“Really with anything we do, we like to get as much participation as we can,” Capt. Keith said. “We also have to work that around our current operations tempo because on any given day, we do have members deployed worldwide.”

Capt. Keith noted that supporting community events is important to everyone at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base.

“The mentality we try to have is ‘family,’” Capt. Keith said. “For each member out there, they could very well have some things that have happened in their life that maybe this would be even more of an impact for them.

“Maybe they’ve gotten help in the past from United Way or from any other local organization, and this is finally a way that they are able to give back.”

McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base is not the only new group to get involved with Gas Day this year.

With other new teams of volunteers from Alcoa Tenn Federal Credit Union, Blount Memorial Hospital, Cornerstone of Recovery, Chroma Graphics, Dixie Iron Riders, the Dragon Chapter of HOG joining Gas Day, organizers expect the event to be bigger than ever before.

Larry Graves, who is co-chairing the Gas Day committee with Jim Woroniecki, said, “I’ve been involved with Gas Day from Day One. We’ve had ups and downs, but I expect this one to the best one yet.”

Graves added that he has personally seen volunteers rally behind his event with a renewed spirit, “From Leadership Blount to realtors and the City of Alcoa, the enthusiasm has grown, and don’t be surprised if you see a city official pumping your gas or cleaning your windshields out there.

“From city managers to department heads and even Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell, they’re all pitching in to help with Gas Day.”

Volunteers from local Blount County, City of Alcoa, and City of Maryville police, fire, and administrative departments will support the event.

Companies and organizations that will be supporting Gas Day again this year include Alcoa, Inc., BB&T, Blount County Habitat for Humanity, CBBC, Cate-Russell Insurance, Denso, First Tennessee Bank, Leadership Blount, Realty III, Rural Metro, Wal-Mart and others.

Graves noted that although Gas Day is tomorrow, people can still do their part to help, “It’s not too late to get involved. Even if you weren’t able to volunteer, you can still participate by filling up at a Gas Day station on Friday.”

Teams will be manning pumps at the following United Way of Blount County Gas Day locations:

• Denso - 2102 West Lamar Alexander Parkway

• Blount County Sheriff’s Office and Maryville Police Dept - 1764 W. Broadway Ave.

• 134th Air Refueling Wing - 2758 Alcoa Highway

• Blount Memorial Hospital - 1502 East Lamar Alexander Parkway

• CBBC, BB&T, and Cornerstone of Recovery - 7945 East Lamar Alexander Parkway

• Blount County Government and First Tennessee Bank - 2601 U.S. 411 South

• Maryville Fire Dept - 815 Montvale Road

• Rural Metro, Dixie Iron Riders and the Dragon Chapter of HOG - 1811 Sevierville Road

• Leadership Blount - 2902 East Lamar Alexander Parkway

• Wal-Mart Alcoa - 1910 Louisville Road

• Alcoa Fire Dept - 2670 Alcoa Highway

• Wal-Mart Maryville - 1771 West Broadway Avenue

• Alcoa Tenn FCU, Alcoa Inc & Blount Co Fire Dept - 2028 East Hunt Road

United Way of Blount County supports programs that address health, education, and self-sufficiency. For more information or to give to United Way, please visit liveunitedblount.org or call 865-982-2251.

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