Approximately 800,000 federal employees and federal contractors have been affected by the longest government shutdown in U.S. history—and have no idea when their next paycheck will come. With family members to support and bills to pay, many of these workers are truly struggling to make ends meet.

It’s often during tough times like these when we see a heartening and hopeful surge in altruism, with neighbors helping neighbors and people donating time and supplies in support of local causes. This spirit has certainly not been lost on American citizens during the shutdown as feeding stations are springing up around the D.C. metro area and nationwide. One such station is World Central Kitchen, funded by Chef José Andrés. In addition to serving daily hot meals, the Kitchen also opened a resource center where furloughed feds can pick up necessities like diapers and grocery supplies. Realizing it’s not just two-legged family members that are struggling, but four-legged ones as well, World Central Kitchen invited IFAW to join the resource center and provide pet food and supplies.

With thousands of people passing through the feeding station and resource center daily, it’s no small wonder that our staff volunteers bagged and distributed over 300 pounds of dog food, 50 pounds of cat food, and roughly 60 pounds of cat litter in just the first day alone. Though it’s been a colossal effort, the humbling resilience from federal employees and the feeling that comes with ensuring all members of the family are fed has made it well worth it.

This experience has invoked a strong sense of local pride for IFAW staff. Program Officer Kelly Johnson expressed her personal gratification, explaining, “I was born and raised in the DC metro area and my mom was a federal worker for 38 years. It’s an honor to serve my community right here in my backyard. We’ve been helping keep families together and ease their burden of taking care of their pets while things are tough and they’re very grateful for it.”

Several VIP guest have also made their way through the resource center. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, passed by with José Andrés and the two were later followed by a visit from Senator Tim Kaine. Congressman Don Beyer and Representative Joe Kennedy III also stopped by and visited the IFAW booth to chat with and say thank you to staff.

Whether it’s a member of congress or the smiling face of a volunteer that they see upon walking through the door, the gratitude of federal employees is clear. Although it’s uncertain how much longer the government shutdown will drag on, we’re prepared to continue serving the DC community in partnership with World Central Kitchen as long as we’re needed.

–KB 

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Article source: IFAW

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