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As the partial government shutdown approaches a month, Little Rock officials gathered Sunday afternoon at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field to encourage residents to help federal employees in need by taking part in a two-day donation drive.

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr., City Director Kathy Webb, Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission Chairman Jesse Mason and airport Executive Director Ron Mathieu announced plans for Little Rock Cares, a two-day, citywide donation drive for federal employees.

"We have 14,000 federal employees in the state," Scott said. "Of those, 7,000 have been furloughed or are dealing with lack of pay. This hits home. Families are struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table."

This week more than 500 employees in the Little Rock area will likely miss another paycheck, which will cause additional hardships, airport spokesman Shane Carter said.

Mason said Transportation Security Administration employees have shown up to work every day without pay to make sure everyone is safe.

"Passengers walking around this airport right now might think it is business as usual," Mason said. "These employees are coming to work each day and not calling in sick. Now they desperately need our help."

The idea behind Little Rock Cares was originally created by airport employees who banded together to help each other, but then the need started to grow beyond their capability, Carter said.

"This is serious," Mason said. "We have employees who have run out of food to put on the table."

Webb, who is also the executive director of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, said any day of the week thousands of Arkansans deal with food insecurities, but the numbers have increased dramatically because of the shutdown.

"We are seeing the stark reality where federal employees are having to choose between food and gas or food and medicine or food and rent," Webb said. "In times of crisis we usually rely on the government, but right now we can't."

City residents have recently banded together as restaurant owners have donated food to federal employees, financial institutions have offered their assistance, and utility companies have agreed to provide for those who are furloughed, Carter said.

"It's neighbors helping neighbors," Carter said.

The two-day event will be Tuesday and Wednesday at various locations across Little Rock.

"We will distribute the items we collect no later then Thursday," Carter said.

Webb encouraged people to contact their local government officials and demand a stop to the shutdown.

"In March we could have 330,000 people not receive their [food stamps] and it would be an overwhelming burden on food donation centers," Webb said.

State Desk on 01/21/2019

Print Headline: Aid sought for federal workers; Little Rock officials plan 2-day donation drive during shutdown


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Archived Comments

  • RBear
    January 21, 2019 at 7:50 a.m.

    Great work by Little Rock and Mayor Scott. I'll be dropping off some Kroger gift cards and food items at the FUMC, Little Rock on Tuesday. I encourage others to do the same.

  • Skeptic1
    January 21, 2019 at 7:52 a.m.

    How is it that the Congress and Senate are not going without a paycheck?

  • RBear
    January 21, 2019 at 8:52 a.m.

    skeptic you and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have the same question. Sounds like you bot have a lot in common. But I agree, they don't need to be taking pay during this time and some have donated their pay to causes supporting federal workers such as the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance fund. My former employer donated $15 million to it also.

  • SeanJohn
    January 21, 2019 at 2:05 p.m.

    I'm sorry, but it still boggles my mind that so many people need help because they've missed a month's worth of pay. I hope these federal workers pay it forward and remember the ones even less fortunate than them after they've received their back pay. There are so many people in need in central AR that are missing meals and don't have adequate shelter. Many that have experienced a type of suffering that many of us will never know. Many with mental disorders and few to no places that can help them beyond a few days. I hope the federal workers realize how lucky they are to have so many eyes on them right now, so many stories written about their plight, and so many people willing to give so that they can feel morally superior. As you drive by the homeless on the streets please be considerate to avoid the water filled potholes that your warm vehicle may splash water on them.

    January 21, 2019 at 2:41 p.m.

    Trump,and Mitch McConnell's shutdown.They are not doing without a paycheck.But The Trump-Pets are still backing their ILK.

  • GullahBetty
    January 22, 2019 at 4:07 p.m.

    Obviously, people can do whatever they want with their money. But why aren’t there being fundraisers being held for non-government workers who have lost their jobs? I that hate anyone is not getting a paycheck but why do people and federal employees think they are privileged, protected, and exempt from layoffs and/or furloughs?

    There are people who have been unemployed much, much longer than one month who aren’t being supported by fundraisers; their former employer isn’t giving them vouchers to give to their creditors; and they aren’t being guaranteed retroactive pay backed by the federal government.

    There may be federal workers not getting paid but there are more non-federal workers who aren’t and haven’t been paid in a much longer time. If you’re going to care for some, then don’t be prejudice. Care for all.

  • Packman
    January 22, 2019 at 4:49 p.m.

    Hey RBear - Did you see where your hero, Alex from the Bronx, said we are all going to die within 12 years unless we immediately enact her New Green Deal? Well hell's bells, guess I can go ahead and do a 30 year finance on that new duck club I've been contemplating since I won't be having to pay most of it back. She truly is a gift to conservatives in general and President Trump's re-election. Perhaps Trump and Putin colluded to elect AOC?