BLUFFTON, SC (WTOC) - Coast Guard supporters in the Lowcountry are stepping in to help the 175 men and women stationed in Savannah who aren’t getting paid during the government shutdown.
"It's kind of a dire situation right now," said John Handfield, Commander of the Hilton Head Flotilla, which is part of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. "Government shutdown, it's killing us."
His group supports the coast guardsmen in the Savannah area and has heard first hand how hard it could be for unpaid and furlough members to make ends meet.
"Talking to Captain Erickson, he's the commander over the air station, he has a lot of young people on his staff," Handfield said. "A lot of personnel, they can go maybe one week, two weeks, and that's about it. Two paychecks, and so it's a real struggle."
Now, he's hoping to gather donations to help pay for their everyday needs.
"Banks, creditors they're going to work with the Coast Guard," Handfield said. "They know they're going to get paid back pay and so on, but it's the day-to-day. Food, gas, things like that, for the kids going to school whatever, and that's where we're coming in to help."
He's collecting gas, grocery, restaurant, and Visa gift cards. Any checks donated must be made out to the Air Station Morale Fund. The money will be put into the fund and distributed among the enlisted members.
"They're the only branch of the 5 branches not getting paid right now, and like I said they're out there every day," Handfield said. "They're out there stopping drugs, stopping illegal immigration. We're just out there trying to do what we can to support them, and this is just one way."
Donations can be mailed or dropped off to:
- John Handfield 118 Ft. Beauregard Ln. Bluffton, SC 29909
- Gordon Kirby 110 General Drayton St. Bluffton, SC 29909
Handfield said Tuesday he’d already received several $100 checks.