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Some local groups are planning a free gas giveaway Monday that they say will send a message to state and national political leaders while helping several hundred people fill their gas tanks.

The People’s Association of Justice Advocates is partnering with local organizations for a gas and food distribution event for low-income and working-class families called “Gas Me Up,” said Shane Harris, president and founder of the association.

They will take over an Arco in Allied Gardens and provide up to $55 of free gas to each vehicle. The event is expected to serve more than 300 cars, giving out about 2,700 gallons of gasoline worth $15,000, which is the amount of a day’s delivery of gas for the station, organizers said.

All participants also will receive a 30-pound box of food from the San Diego Food Bank. Each box contains canned foods and dried goods, enough to help a family of four for a few weeks, said Casey Castillo, the foodbank’s interim CEO.

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Gas Me Up San Diego is scheduled for 7 – 10 a.m. Monday at the Arco station, at 5194 Waring Road. Participants must first register at www.pajmovement.org/freegasevent.

Although registrants will not be required to provide proof of income, the form will ask questions about their estimated income, how gas prices are affecting them and why the event is important, Harris said.

Those interested in donating to the event also can visit the website.

Funds for the gas giveaway are being donated by the People’s Association of Justice Advocates, along with the County of San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce, the Heartland Coalition, San Diego-based attorney King Aminpour, Attisha Enterprises Inc., the Chaldean Coalition and some anonymous donors, Harris said.

“We’re hoping that this will be a symbolic call to action,” Harris added. “We’re not going to meet every San Diegan’s needs, but we’re sending a thorough message that something needs to be done now.”

Harris said the event will highlight the impact of surging gas prices and President Joe Biden’s announced ban on imported Russian oil and gas have had on working-class and low-income families.

California’s gas prices are the highest in the country. Regular unleaded gas in San Diego County averaged $5.602 a gallon Wednesday, jumping 11.9 cents in a day, the second largest increase since July 14, 2015, and its 20th record in 22 days, according to AAA.

“Small things, like being able to afford a tank of gas, can add up to major issues, and being able to put even a small worry aside leaves people free to focus on the bigger picture,” said Shamila Hall, director of operations at the Black Chamber.

Mark Hanson, president and CEO of the Heartland Coalition, said some of the organization’s YouthBuild Charter School graduates have struggled getting to their jobs.

“Our students didn’t have the gas to drive their trucks to their jobs, (and) because they have to haul tools and sometimes materials, public transportation isn’t an option,” he said.

San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond earlier this week asked the Board of Supervisors to send a letter to the state requesting a one-year suspension of California’s Gas Tax, currently at 51 cents per gallon.

“I cannot stand by and let San Diegans suffer while Sacramento politicians build up their coffers,” Desmond said in a prepared statement. “I admit this is a short-term problem and longer solutions need to be looked into like America becoming more energy-independent, but that’s a federal issue. In the meantime, San Diegans need help and it’s time for Sacramento bureaucrats to step up.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom hinted Tuesday he may propose a tax rebate to help with gas affordability and has previously proposed suspending the gas tax increase scheduled for July.

Meanwhile, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) issued a joint statement Tuesday supporting Newsom’s tax rebate plan, though they were concerned about suspending the July gas tax increase.

“The Legislature will put the state’s robust revenue growth to work by returning substantial tax relief to families and small businesses as fast as possible. Gas, food, and other prices are up, so our focus cannot be a small cut to the gas tax that might not get passed on to consumers,” the statement read.

Source: This post first appeared on sandiegouniontribune.com

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