Communities Rally Together to Assist Furloughed Workers

Furloughed workers in need of relief are finding it, not in the government, but in their communities across the country. As workers approach their second missed paycheck due to the government shutdown, private corporations, religious groups, and community organizations have been working to help furloughed workers make ends meet.

Residents in Jeffersonville, Indiana organized a food drive this past weekend for furloughed workers.  Workers also received resources regarding financial assistance programs available throughout the state.

About 700 of the 1,700 employees working for the U.S. Census Bureau's National Processing Center in Jeffersonville are on furlough.

Amy Wheatley, an attorney with the Law Office of Nick Stein, who co-organized the event with fellow attorney Amy Stein, told a local news group that the goal of the event was to help workers in a completely non-partisan fashion.

Wheatley explained, “My biggest concern was I didn't want this to be partisan. Amy and I both said this, we don't care about the wall, or whether you're Republican or Democrat, these are people in our community that need help and I wanted to get help to them.”

With similar sentiments, an evangelical church in Alabama handed out $16,500 in grocery store gift cards to local federal workers and contractors last week.

Food banks and free grocery services have also popped up in Texas, Florida, Illinois, Maine, and other states with high concentrations of government workers.

Last week, former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush delivered free pizzas to Secret Service agents and called for both sides to come together to end the shutdown.

The Professional Managers Association (PMA), a national association representing the interests of professional managers, management officials, and non-bargaining unit employees in the federal government, has offered their members $100 Walmart and SAMs gift cards. While the offer is only available to members of the association, it is intended to assist the 36,000 Internal Revenue Service employees who are being asked to return to work without pay for tax season, many of whom are PMA members.

Market Watch warned that missed or late payments could adversely affect a worker’s credit score in the near future.

To mitigate this issue, private corporations have sought financial relief for government workers and contractors.

Ally Financial, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase have established special care and assistance hotlines to provide federal workers with personalized financial guidance. Telephone companies such as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon have offered flexible payment plans to ensure service remains uninterrupted during the shutdown, according to a USA Today report.

Several eateries in Washington, DC and other cities with a high concentration of government employees are offering “furlough freebies” such as free coffee and pizza to furloughed government workers, according to the aforementioned USA Today report.

The Office of Personnel Management released an updated memorandum on handling the furlough to agency heads on Friday.

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