Nonprofit Helps Coast Guard Families During Government Shutdown

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CAPE MAY, N.J. -

Canned goods, milk, and eggs along with things like diapers and formula have been donated to a local nonprofit to help Coast Guard families who are unsure when they'll be receiving their next paycheck.

Over 800,000 federal employees have been working without pay during the partial government shutdown, including the United States Coast Guard. It now appears unlikely they will be getting their next paycheck come Tuesday, January 15th.

Because of this, over the last few weeks, members of the community along with officials with the Jersey Cape Military Spouses Club (JCMSC) have come together to help support those in need.

“This wasn’t something that we anticipated turning into all of this," said Jessica Manfre, a member of the JCMSC.

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However, because of restrictions and a Code of Ethics, steps needed to be taken before families could accept the numerous donations piling in.

“The Coast Guard is completely separate from us," said Manfre. "We are a nonprofit [and] we have been for some time. So, it was kind of easy for us to step in to that role of accepting it and being able to give to families because we’re not restricted.”

The initiative actually began weeks ago at the Seaville Volunteer Fire Department after their officials partnered up with representatives with the American Legion in Wildwood.

Due to restrictions, they needed help finding a way to get the donations to the people they were intended for. With the help of the spouses club members, and officials with the Chief Petty Officers Association, donated items are now being utilized.

“I think initially, some people were probably uncomfortable with coming in," said Manfre. "I mean, no body wants to have to go to a food pantry." 

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Manfre also said that even though there was some hesitation, once they got the word out through social media, it became something more normalized.

“The people that do come here and talk to their friends that are maybe too embarrassed to show up ... my message is this - the community is doing this for us," said Manfre. "Let them.”

She said if the shutdown ends, simply pay it forward.

“What’s going on, it’s horrible," said Manfre. "We’re stressed, but we have this and we have this community ...”

Seaville Volunteer Fire Department officials will still be taking donations throughout the shutdown.

If you'd like to contact the Jersey Cape Military Spouses Club directly, email Jessica Manfre at jessmanfre@gmail.com.

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