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Long Islanders rally to help those affected by government shutdown

Long Island Cares invites workers to avail themselves of food, personal care products, household supplies, pet food and other assistance at its three locations.

On Friday, Long Island Cares' CEO announced a food and supply drive to help federal employees affected by the government shutdown. Food and supplies will be collected at the local district offices of Sen. Jim Gaughran and Assemb. Charles Lavine. (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

Long Island charities, public officials and businesses are coming together to help out workers feeling the financial sting of the partial federal shutdown.

A community food bank, a credit union and even a yacht club have offered food, goods and services to help out the thousands of Islanders who have not been paid since the shutdown began Dec. 22.

They also are calling on Long Islanders to donate nonperishable food and goods to assist the effort.

"In the past week, 490 government and private workers have reached out to us," said Paule Pachter, head of Long Island Cares, at a news conference Friday at the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site in Oyster Bay, which has been closed due to the shutdown. 

Pachter invited workers to avail themselves of food, personal care products, household supplies, pet food and other assistance at the three Long Island Cares locations in Freeport, Lindenhurst and Huntington Station.

For more information people can call 631-582-3663.

In recent days, dozens of furloughed federal employees, primarily from Internal Revenue Service centers in Holtsville and Hauppauge, have been flooding through the doors of Angels of Long Island, a Patchogue-based thrift store that collects food and household items for families in need, said founder Debra Loesch.

Many of those federal workers, she said, were regular donors to the organization but now face the need at home.

“The last few days have been eye opening,” said Loesch, who is collecting nonperishable food and grocery gift cards for furloughed workers. "These are families in crisis.”

Elsewhere, The Greater Huntington Council of Yacht and Boating Clubs has established a gift card donation drive for U.S. Coast Guard personnel who are working without pay during the government shutdown.

“Year-round the brave and dedicated men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard stand ready to respond to any emergency," said the clubs' executive officer Jackie Martin. "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.”

Meanwhile, Nassau Financial Federal Credit Union is offering a special Federal Employee Assistance Program to help credit union members affected by the shutdown. Members will have the opportunity to manage their finances by skipping loan, credit card, or real estate loan payments up to 90 days, withdrawing funds from certificate accounts without penalty, or applying for a personal loan up to $5,000 with payments deferred up to 90 days.

In addition, the Suffolk County SPCA is offering free pet food to federal government employees and their families experiencing a financial hardship during the shutdown.  

People can call the Suffolk County SPCA at 631-382-7722 to arrange pickup.

State Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Huntington) and Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) have launched their own drives to collect food and supplies for workers.

Each official will be collecting food, personal care items, household supplies and pet food at their district offices and satellite locations, and passing on the goods to Long Island Cares.

"Hopefully we can do a little bit to help those in need," said Gaughran during the news conference at Sagamore Hill, the former home of President Theodore Roosevelt. "Hopefully this will be a short food drive."

Lavine, also at the news conference, added, "Thousands of Long Islanders are furloughed . . . Human and economic crisis always go hand-in-hand."

With Robert Brodsky

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