Fremont gas station owner offers free gas to all federal workers in the city

A local gas station owner is giving away free gas to federal employees who live in Fremont.
He says he wanted to try to help his community get through this lengthy government shutdown.

For some federal employees, the government shutdown means filling up is no longer an option.

Gas station owner Ray Olyaie overheard a woman saying exactly that.

"She says I can't go to work because I don't have the money for gas. And I thought about it... why don't I help them," he said,

And so at the Valero at 4004 Mowry in Fremont, Olyaie is offering free gas to federal employees who are also Fremont residents. For people like Lori Luscher, a Department of Transportation employee, the impact is immediate.

Luscher says, "Well I can get out of the house. I've been staying in the house because I don't want to drive anywhere or spend any more money than I absolutely have to."

Her message to Olyaie, "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It's very kind."

Olyaie says, "That makes me feel very, very good. To be honest with you, it makes me almost cry."

Olyaie, originally from Iran, has long been a U.S. citizen and he says he's passionate about his community and giving back. Still he wishes it hadn't come to this.

He says, "I feel very sad to be honest with you. We are the richest country in the world. And we are the best country in the world and we have the best people in the world. Then we can’t come together with a small thing, with the budget. It's crazy."

For now, he's hoping to lead by example.

He says, "Maybe somebody else will hear me in another city and they do the same thing."

And he may be winning over some lifelong customers in the process.

Customer Cynthia Topole says, "It makes me like this place even more."

The owner says he's willing to give away up to $20,000 in free gas, though he may give away more if the shutdown continues.