As the federal government shutdown drags into the fourth week, Huntington area boaters and elected officials have come together to help provide relief to furloughed federal employees and their families.
The Greater Huntington Council of Yacht and Boating Clubs, which represents more than 20 boat and watercraft organizations, announced Jan. 10 a gift card donation drive to help the U.S. Coast Guard personnel who safeguard the waters of the Long Island Sound.
“Year-round the brave and dedicated men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard stand ready to
respond to any emergency,” said Jackie Martin, executive officer of the boat council. “They continue to report to work even though they are not getting paid. They still have bills to pay and many have families to feed.”
Donations of food, personal hygiene items, household supplies, pet foods and gift cards for federal employees can be dropped off at:
• Gaughran’s District Office
99-111South St., Suite 250
Oyster Bay, NY
• Stop & Shop
60 Wall St.
• Long Island Cares
Huntington Station, NY
• Long Island Cares
10 Davids Drive
Donations of gift cards for U.S. Coast Guard personnel can be sent to:
• The Greater Huntington Council of Yacht and Boating Clubs
P.O. Box 2124
Halesite, NY 11743
All checks must be made payable to “Chief Petty Officer Association” with Shut Down Fund CT-NY in the memo line.
Martin said the idea for a gift card drive came from her husband who previously served in the U.S. Navy. She said he knew the Coast Guard personnel operating out of Eatons Neck and Hartford, Connecticut, are considered part of the Department of Homeland Security during peacetime and, as a result, have not
received a paycheck since the shutdown began Dec. 22.
“He remembered how tough it was to live from paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “When you have a young family and are trying to live paycheck to paycheck it’s difficult.”
Coast Guard staff has cut back on all nonessential services but must be available to respond to emergency situations. Some of its members travelfrom as far away as Jersey City to do four-day shifts at the base.
“There are people out there boating even in this weather,” Martin said. “There’s commercial fisherman and clammers out on our waterways.”
In addition to gift cards, the boating council will accept monetary donations to purchase gift cards to
be distributed among the Coast Guard by their respective commanders based on need.
Huntington’s boaters are not the only ones to have launched a donation drive in efforts to help out federal
employees in need. New York State Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) made one of his first acts of
office Jan. 10 to announce a food and supplies drive alongside state Assemblyman Charles Lavine
(D-Glen Cove) at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, which has been shuttered by the government shutdown.
“Our federal workers don’t have the luxury of sacrificing their paychecks for an undetermined amount of time,” Gaughran said. “Federal workers on Long Island are now expected to choose between feeding their families or paying their mortgage.”
Gaughran and Lavine are working to set up a network of supermarket, business and offices to serve as
collection sites for donations to go to federal employees. Items being collected include food, personal care items, common household supplies, pet food and gift cards. He stressed that due to state laws the elected
officials and their offices cannot accept cash donations on behalf of federal workers.
The state senator said he started the initiative after speaking with Paule Pachter, chief executive officer of Hauppauge-based Long Island Cares food bank, who stressed that winter is often the most difficult season with the agency already helping approximately 450 families. Resources are quickly becoming stretched thin.
LI Cares will help collect and distribute food, personal hygiene items and other donations collected
to federal employees already directed to the agency through its channels, according to Gaughran.
“I hope this is a short food drive that it won’t be necessary for a long period of time,” he said. “I hope the government in Washington, D.C., does its job and reopens soon.”