Community Rallies to Help Federal Workers Affected by Shutdown

By Lura Jackson

With the partial federal shutdown continuing without an apparent end in sight, the community of Eastern Washington County is taking steps to help out friends, neighbors, and fellow residents affected by the loss of a regular paycheck. Events have been held and are underway to raise funds to be donated to those in need, and local businesses are doing what they can to pitch in, too.

In Eastport, home of the nearest Coast Guard Station, a benefit was organized at the Landmark on Monday, January 21st to raise donations for station members. A spaghetti dinner with an assortment of sides and desserts was served for a fair price; all of the proceeds were given to the Coast Guard. Per the Eastport station’s commanding officer, Chief Petty Officer Josh C. Smith, all donations intended to help local station members should be sent to the Northern New England Chief Petty Officer Association, of which he is a member and can draw funds from on behalf of his crew.

In Calais, Calais Elementary School is preparing to host a taco bar on Saturday, February 2nd from 1 to 6 p.m. to benefit families affected by the shutdown, including members of the Border Patrol, Immigration, Customs, the Coast Guard. Everyone in the community is invited to come for a cost of $5 each or $10 for a family. Donations are now being accepted for a Chinese auction, and additional funds will be raised through a 50-50 drawing. Those who wish to donate funds for affected local families directly can do so at Machias Savings Bank. Per CES Principal Sue Carter, the funds and items will be gifted to the local stations and distributed to families at their private request – enabling them to remain anonymous. To make a donation for the raffle, contact Sue Carter at 952-0472 or Julie Redding at 214-8434.

Businesses are getting involved throughout the region with special deals posted on their Facebook pages. In Machias, Helen’s Restaurant is offering $20 toward a meal for all community members affected by the shutdown. Those who are interested in participating will need to bring their CAC cards. In Calais, Crumbs Café and Bake Shop is offering a $5 meal to federal workers “faithfully going to work this week with no paycheck in sight,” including any sandwich, any cup of soup, and a beverage. Jo’s Diner is offering a flat 20 percent discount to federal employees that present their ID as “a thank you and a way to help during these times of uncertainty.”

 

Meanwhile, at the Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry in Calais, volunteer David Sivret reports that there hasn’t been an increase in need yet. With the possibility of food stamps not being distributed if the shutdown continues into February, that situation will change. “If it continues, then we will be ready to help out at the pantry,” Sivret said.