The government shutdown continues and there is no clear end in sight. Employees all over the U.S. have turned to odd jobs, food pantries and online fundraising since the shutdown began on December 21, 2018. There are an estimated 800,000 federal employees that are either furloughed or working without pay.
Currently, there are approximately 1,800 campaigns to raise money for those affected by the stalemate between Trump and the Dems on the popular website GoFundMe, and according to GoFundMe spokesperson Katherine Cichy, the campaigns have raised close to $400,000 total.
The campaigns are asking for money to help pay rent, buy food, make student loan payments and car repairs. People from all across the U.S. are hitting social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share their stories during this difficult time. Here are a couple of stories from among the thousands that I found.
Valencia White is a Section 8 voucher recipient in Little Rock, Arkansas, which helps her stay in affordable housing. She has two young children and has a degenerative disc disease that prevents her from being able to work.
“I’ve got to pay rent, and I have to find ways to pay for food,” White said, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “My children are the ones that’s going to suffer the most.”
All contracts for Section 8 vouchers will expire at the end of February if the shutdown continues. The vouchers are under the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is already dealing with 1,150 expired contracts in its project-based rental assistance program, prompting a rash of eviction notices. About 3.4 million people use Section 8 housing assistance.
Jackie is an instructor for the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, also known as “Coast Guard City.” The Coast Guard is the only branch of the military that must work during the partial government shutdown because it’s under the Department of Homeland Security instead of the Department of Defense.
Ramirez said she’s been making ends meet with help from a pop-up food pantry meant to assist Coast Guard members during the shutdown.
“This is a new experience for me,” Ramirez told HuffPost of the food pantry. “It gives me that comfort in case that next paycheck doesn’t come. … Thank goodness for all this. I walked in and almost started crying.”
About 42,000 Coast Guard members recently missed paychecks for the first time since the monthlong shutdown began.
Julie Burr, 49, an administrative assistant at the Department of Transportation in Kansas City, Mo., said “panic mode” had set in. She is a single mother and a contract worker who is not getting paid during the shutdown. Her last paycheck will arrive on Jan. 16, and it will be 24 hours short of its regular amount.
“If this goes on too long, I’m going to have to do something drastic,” she said in an interview.
During the holidays she took a second job as a cashier at Barnes & Noble, and the company let her pick up extra shifts during the shutdown. Even so, the money she is making there adds up to only a fraction of her usual income.
“It’ll put food on the table, but it’s not going to pay the rent,” she said. “I do have some in savings, but it’s not a whole lot, especially after the holidays.”
Another family in Louisiana asked for $5,000 to pay bills, including a mortgage, and other expenses before the birth of their child in March. Taylor Gautreaux, who wrote the GoFundMe page, is a government contractor using paid time off to get through the shutdown.
As a government contractor, my company allowed us to use borrowed PTO to help during the first couple of weeks during the shutdown, however I will soon have exhausted all allotted PTO for the next year. This really sucks because I will have a newborn baby who will need me to take him to doctors appointments and care for him if he becomes ill, but I will no long have the PTO to do that.
The pleas come from federal employees and contractors from a variety of departments. Members of the military, librarians, scientists, and TSA officers are asking for help.
Nila Cleckley writes that she is working 40 hours a week without a paycheck, and bills are starting to pile up. She has two sons and no family or friends to help.
I really don’t know how I’m gonna put gas in my car to make it back in forth and to work. I am already living paycheck to paycheck. I just don’t know how I’m Gonna make it. I’m never one to beg or ask for help but this is my only option.
Cichy said that GoFundMe has a team to verify the identity of campaign organizerss and ensure contributions go to people affected by the shutdown. Donations are backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which ensures that donors’ money is going where they think it is, Cichy said. If donated funds are misused, the money will be refunded.
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