By Emily Drooby
With the government shutdown more than a month old, volunteers unpacked thousands of dollars’ worth of food at Saint Benedict the Moor Church, in Jamaica, Queens, for a special pantry put on by Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens.
Debbie Hampson who works for Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, explained, “This isn’t a group that we would normally see.”
The campaign was held to help government employees affected by the shutdown.
Hampson, explained, “Due to the furloughs and non-paychecks, it’s needed, it really is.”
The special food pantry was welcomed by those who are without their paychecks, like TSA employee Veronica Jay, who explained, “Oh, it means a lot, it really does, it’s very touching, you know to have your back against the wall not know what opportunities are out there. And then they tell you. Like I said, we’ll share stuff, I found out from another co-worker. So we will kind of share what’s going on.”
Donations ranged from food to toiletries. Gas cards, food vouchers and Target gift cards also given away. Catholic Charities had some help from non-profit Rock-Can-Roll which donated goods, and PS 217, which provided volunteers.
Hampson said, since the shutdown, they’ve seen more government employees reaching out for help. Hampson further explained, “We have 20 pantries through Catholic Charities in Brooklyn and Queens and we’re getting IRS workers, we are getting TSA workers, we are getting other furloughed government workers so there really is a need, and people for the first time have to ask for some help.”
Hampson says they did work alongside local TSA employees to spread the word for the event but that it was for any furloughed employee as long as they had their federal work ID.