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Want to support U.S. Coast Guard members working without pay during federal shutdown? Donate gift cards

January 22, 2019 - 8:48 am

The U.S. Coast Guard is still working. And they’re the only military members working without pay during the government shutdown.

So a Bay Village woman is collecting gift cards to give to members who need to buy gas, food and baby supplies.

Susan Zanetti has more than $4,000 in gift cards so far, which she plans to deliver Tuesday to the Cleveland Coast Guard station, where more than 250 people work. The USO of Northern Ohio is also collecting donations for Coast Guard employees.

“I think people just really want to do something. People feel bad. We watch the Coast Guard work. They keep our country safe,” Zanetti said. “My mission is, let’s take care of our own here in Cleveland.”

Coast Guard members were paid Dec. 31 because of a short-term solution. But they missed checks on Jan. 15 because the agency is overseen by the Department of Homeland Security, which unlike the Department of Defense is unfunded.

Communities across the country are pitching in to help Coast Guard members.

“Our entire Coast Guard workforce – civilian, military, and retirees – continue to feel the increasing impacts of our lapse in appropriations,” Vice Commandant Admiral Charles W. Ray wrote on the Coast Guard blog this month. “I am constantly inspired by the way our Coast Guard family, service organizations and local communities have pulled together to help one another.”

Coast Guard Mutual Assistance loans are available for up to $1,500, and Coast Guard childcare centers are not charging during the shutdown, which is affecting about 800,000 government employees

The shutdown, which began Dec. 22, is the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, and no one knows when it will end.

“This shutdown’s got to stop. But if it doesn’t these people really need our help,” Zanetti said. “They’re working every day.”

The Coast Guard – formed in 1790 by Alexander Hamilton and merged through American history – is an armed service that handles law enforcement, homeland security, search-and-rescue missions, ice breaking and marine safety. It has 11 official missions.

Zanetti chose to support the Coast Guard specifically during the shutdown because she lives and boats on Lake Erie and wanted to show her appreciation for the Coast Guard work.

Want to help? Zanetti will collect cards in her mailbox, 358 Lake Park Drive, through Tuesday, then donate to the Coast Guard Petty Officer organization.

For USO donations, you can drop off non-perishable foods, personal hygiene products, household cleaning items, laundry soap and supplies, baby diapers, paper products, grocery store gift cards and gas cards at a number of locations, including Rocky River and Brook Park recreation centers.

For drop-offs, email or call 216-262-2738.

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