Local efforts ramp up to assist community members affected by shutdown

Organizations push drives to assist federal workers, Coast Guard members

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard were not paid recently as a result of the ongoing shutdown. Local efforts are ramping up to help those affected by the shutdown. (Times-Standard file)

Several community organizations are organizing donation drives to alleviate the strain the partial government shutdown has placed on people who, as a result of the partial government shutdown, have been furloughed or forced to work without pay, such as members of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Cooperation Humboldt and several faith organizations are accepting donations of various items ranging from nonperishable food items to everyday household products like paper towels or shampoo.

David Cobb, a member of Cooperation Humboldt, said the donations collected are open to anyone in need, but the recent effort stems from attempts intended to address individuals affected by the shutdown.

“We know that our community members are suffering because of the ridiculous intransigence happening in Washington, D.C.,” he said.  “We’re coming together to show that we can support each other. We support each other, not Washington, D.C.”

Cobb said Cooperation Humboldt is partnering with the Humboldt-Del Norte Central Labor Council to maximize the effort, which includes $750 to be used for gift cards to the North Coast Co-op. Donations can be dropped off at 840 E St. in Eureka, he said.

Cobb says that although the donation drive is relatively new, he’s already receiving phone calls and emails from people interested in donating.

“As expected, the people of the North Coast are generous, progressive and positive,” he said.

The Faith Center is also working to consolidate relief efforts, Aime Snider, the center’s children’s pastor, said.

“We just love (the Coast Guard) as a community and want them to feel supported and taken care of,” she said. “We hope we can help do that in a small way.”

Snider said a lot of the church’s members are personally affected by the shutdown. Gift cards, canned foods, pasta and similar items are requested in an effort to help keep food and household pantries for Coast Guard families stocked, she said.

Eureka City Councilmember Natalie Arroyo, who is in the Coast Guard Reserve, which is also not getting paid, said she intends to reach out to Sen. Mike McGuire in the future to see what methods of recourse are available.

“I know it is incredibly hard on so much of our community and there is a lot of kindness and care here too,” she said. “The food drive is a great start and the city will look for more ways to help as the shutdown goes on.”

Dozens of people have reached out to Arroyo to see how they can help, she said. Recognizing the large number of people who rely on federal employment in one capacity or another, she stressed the need for people to “come together as a community.”

Admiral Karl L. Schultz, Commandant of the US Coast Guard, recently wrote that “To the best of my knowledge, this marks the first time in our Nation’s history that service members in a U.S. Armed Force have not been paid during a lapse in government appropriations.”

Lt. Commander Matthew Kroll, the regional spokesman for the Coast Guard, said that because of ethical constraints, the best way to donate financially to the coast guard is through the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance fund. Additionally, the Chief Petty Officer Association is also a primary place to send donations, he said. Material items can be routed through more informal channels, Kroll said, such as the grassroots donation drives being coordinated locally.

“We appreciate the concern and willingness to help support Coast Guard members,” he said. “Not only do we appreciate that, but we’re still  manning watch and doing what we need to keep everybody safe.”

Aime Snider from the Faith Center can be contacted at 707-442-1784 extension 217, or via email at asnider@eurkafaithcenter.org.

For more information on how to donate to the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance fund, visit http://www.cgmahq.org/donation/donationGeneral.html

Philip Santos can be reached at 707-441-0506.

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