ABC Philadelphia: Philadelphia International Airport collecting donations for federal workers during shutdown

Originally published by ABC Action News Philadelphia on January 23, 2019

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — The partial government shutdown has moved into its 32nd day, and another missed paycheck looms for hundreds of thousands of federal workers.

At Philadelphia International Airport on Tuesday, food and other items were being collected for the federal employees who are struggling to feed their families and pay their bills.

The donations include boxes filled with produce from The FruitGuys, who are donating 1,000 pieces of fresh fruit and vegetables every other day.

The airport began collecting donations last week, and the response has been overwhelming.

“Our federal workforce, they’re dedicated, they’re committed. They’re coming here every day to work and we are appreciative of them,” said spokesperson Diana Gerace.

Brown’s Family ShopRite, which has a location on nearby Island Avenue, also dropped off a major donation.

The airport is collecting supplies – including food, diapers, hygiene products – set up in a pantry at the airport for all federal employees, not just airport workers.

Congressman Dwight Evans was there for this dropoff before heading to Washington.

“We in Washington, Democrat and Republican, can’t be about pointing fingers. We have passed bills already over to the Senate. Now we’re waiting for them to do something,” said Evans.

Anyone can drop off donations at the airport during the shutdown from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Meanwhile, more evidence of the shutdown could be seen on Independence Mall. Historical sites are closed to tourists, and the Independence Visitors Center has announced they’re forced to reduce hours.

“The only saving grace is that it’s the middle of winter and maybe there aren’t that many tourists around, but still: people who work there aren’t getting paid now either,” said Robert Sattler of Westmont, New Jersey.

“It shouldn’t have to be, it shouldn’t have to be. Just get these people back to work,” said Thaddeus Shaw of Fairmount.

Some worry how far this will go.

“I know it’s going to affect food stamps sometime soon, because I work for the welfare office. People aren’t going to get the food they need to survive,” said Kyle Carraher of Port Richmond.

Mina Barron of Frankford works nearby at the federal building.

“We’re coming to work, but at the same time you’re not getting paid for it. But you’ve got to stay positive and everything else,” she said. “But it’s hard.”