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Local organizations support Coast Guard families amid government shutdown

Posted at 6:17 PM, Jan 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-11 21:42:50-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — It’s been 21 days since the start of the partial federal government shutdown — now tied for the longest in US history.

Today usually is payday Coastguardsmen. But they, like other federal employees, are not getting a paycheck. While the federal government fails to pay their workers, San Diego community organizations are stepping up to help.

It's not a handout. It's a helping hand.

"Is there anything we can do? We understand you're in a tough situation,” asked Tony Teravainen said. Teravainen is the CEO and Co-founder of Support The Enlisted Project, or STEP, an organization that helps military families with basic needs.

RELATED: Coast Guard members hurting financially from shutdown

Currently, his focus is toward the Coast Guard. Unlike the other branches of the military, the Coast Guard operates under the Department of Homeland Security. The government shutdown is forcing them to protect the nation's waterways for free, with the promise they'll get paid, eventually.

"The diaper supply is low, the gas tank might be getting low, and these are the immediate things we are thinking about,” Taravanien said.

San Diego is home to just over 700 Coastguardsmen and women. About half of them are married with children. Almost all of them are in the low-income bracket, living paycheck to paycheck. Last month's pay came from an emergency federal approval. But this month's paycheck is not guaranteed.

That's why local organizations like STEP are stepping up to help.

"Our number one value is to do what's right. And in that situation, it would seem like we would give some special care to make sure these folks get what they need during this time,” Teravainen said.

Earlier this week, the official Coast Guard support group put out a tip sheet, suggesting members to hold garage sales, babysit, or even become a mystery shopper to supplement their income during the shutdown. But after receiving much criticism, that post was taken down.

Saturday is STEP’s quarterly Food distribution at their Kearny Mesa Warehouse.

"Take what you need, and here's what other community partners can help,” Taravainen said.

STEP is working with partner organizations to provide food, clothing, small supplies, gas cards, and furniture to those who need a little help. They said it’s the least they can do, for military members who protect our freedoms for free.

"We want to tell them that they are valued. We want to tell them that their work matters. We want to tell them that we appreciate their service, that they're working to still conduct what they consider are necessary operations or emergency operations even when they are in a status of not getting paid,” Teravainen said.

The food distribution will be on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019.
Start time: 9 a.m.
Location: 9951 Businesspark Avenue
San Diego, CA 92131
Open to: Active military members, veterans, guard, reservists, and their families.
Bring: military or veteran ID, reusable shopping bags.

For more information click here.