In order to show support to Coast Guard members working without pay during the federal government shutdown, local volunteers and organizations participated in a food drive to stock the Seattle Coast Guard Station’s pantry.
Coordinated by the USO Northwest, the Chief Petty Officers Association and the Truman National Security Project, three events were held at Fred Meyer locations in Issaquah, Maple Valley and Ballard on Saturday, Jan. 26. Volunteers collected donations of non-perishable food, personal times, household supplies, and pet food. Monetary donations also were being raised for the Coast Guard as well.
Each event saw volunteer support from people formerly involved with the Seattle Seahawks. In Issaquah, former digital media host Tony Ventrella was signing his new book and taking photos with people. In Ballard, former Seahawk player Marcus Troufant was taking photos and signing autographs.
The day before the food drive, President Donald Trump agreed to reopen the government until Feb. 15, when the government could shutdown again. Former Army Commander and community volunteer Chris Franco helped organize the event in Issaquah and said that while the reopening of the government was a good sign, it was still important to help the people who have been impacted by the shutdown, and who could again be impacted in February.
“It’s a breath of fresh air and some hope that we can figure something out and move forward and pay these folks that have been working so hard for us without pay,” Franco said. “In a lot of ways it changed very little, understanding we are going to be back to square one in February. These folks have been going for a month without pay after the holidays, and it’s going to take time to process their pay and by the time they are getting back on their feet and feeling like they can breath again, we are likely going to be back to where we at.”
Franco thanked the Eastside community for coming together to help the Coast Guard families. Volunteers, individuals and representatives from several organizations helped at both locations to receive donations and load them into the trucks. The event received volunteers from the USO, the Truman National Security Project, Indivisibles, DocuSign and King County, Franco said.
According to Franco, the large trucks were filled by the end of the day thanks to donations from the citizens of Issaquah, Maple Valley and Ballard. The Coast Guard food pantry will be filled for some time. After the trucks left the Fred Meyer locations, people kept donating, so a second round of deliveries were made Sunday morning as well.
“It sounds like our Coast Guard families will get paid later this week and have some breathing room for the next round of the shutdown,” Franco said.
He was grateful for all of the community support shown this weekend and said it was “one of the most uplifting and encouraging things” he had seen in a long time.