Local Communities Support USCG During Government Shutdown
With the government shutdown surpassing the one-month mark earlier this week, leaving many federal workers and their families without pay for several weeks. With the United States Coast Guard is the only military branch without during the shutdown. This face pushed several local boating communities have come together to support their local servicemembers and their families.
Over the past week, several Sea Tow franchises have rallied their local marine communities together to collect everyday goods – nonperishable foods, diapers, formula, household items, and even gift cards – to help local Coast Guard families get through the shutdown as unscathed as possible.
It all started when Sea Tow Fort Myers’ Heather O’Brien first heard that the Coast Guard wasn’t going to be paid during the shutdown. USCG funding comes from the Department of Homeland Security, not the Department of Defense, like their Army, Navy, and Marine counterparts.
“When I first heard about these men and women and their families going without pay during the shutdown, I knew I had to do something,” O’Brien said. “We’ve built up such a strong relationship with the Coast Guard over the years and they never hesitate to help us out when we need it most, so it’s only right we return the favor.”
In just a few days, O’Brien and her staff at Sea Tow Fort Myers collected thousands of items – from food and toiletries to gift cards totaling over $12,000. With the help of the U.S. Coast Guard Enlistment Association, O’Brien was able to deliver multiple truckloads worth of goods to a donated storefront at a nearby shopping center, where Coast Guard families can visit to privately pick up any items they may need.
“A local Coast Guard vet donated a storefront for us to keep all the donated goods in,” O’Brien said. “We plan on opening it up to the public every Wednesday so that people and businesses can stop by and make donations, and both myself and a local Coast Guard officer have keys – that way we can work with each family individually so that they can come and go as they please and pick up goods discreetly.”
O’Brien added that Sea Tow Fort Myers will be accepting donations at their Cape Coral office seven-days-a-week until the shutdown ends.
However, Fort Myers is not the only Sea Tow franchise hosting their own donation drive.
Far up the East Coast, the crew at Sea Tow Manasquan are participating in their own donation drive. Capt. Chris LaNeve is collecting gift cards to local restaurants, shops and gas stations to help Coast Guard families throughout New Jersey get through the shutdown.
About a hundred miles north of Fort Myers, Sea Tow Tampa Bay is collecting gift cards, toiletries, food, and pet and cleaning products at their St. Petersburg office.
Sea Tow CEO Joseph Frohnhoefer III said that seeing the outpouring of support for a group of men and women Sea Tow works with so often has been a humbling experience.
“It’s so great to see such tremendous support from both our franchisees and the greater boating community as a whole,” Frohnhoefer said. “We couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved. It’s a great day to wear Sea Tow yellow.”