The federal government shutdown came about because of politics. But its repercussions are hitting average citizens without regard for partisanship.
Hundreds of thousands of government employees -- many still required to come into work -- are turning to food banks and other programs to make ends meet.
The national park system, airports, and even the space program have all been impacted. Meanwhile, average citizens are stepping up to help those in government service who are not getting paid. They are also volunteering to take care of national institutions that ordinarily rely on government employees.
There are many opportunities for you to make a difference.
United for US Fund
The United Way has set up the United for the US Fund -- a joint effort by labor unions, corporate partners, the United Way network, and nonprofits to help federal workers, contractors and others impacted by the shutdown. Local United Way chapters are providing financial services, counseling and, where available, emergency help with rent, food and other basics. The United Way says 100% of donations to the United for the US Fund will go to the affected parties.
Feeding America is working with a network of food banks to support affected families. On their website, you can pledge money or enter your zip code to find nearby food banks where you can donate or get help.
Capital Area Food Bank
Capital Area Food Bank, the largest anti-hunger organization in the DC area, typically provides about three million meals in January alone. This year, the government shutdown is increasing demand on the organization. Capital Area Food Bank partners with more than 450 local organizations.
#ChefsForFeds organizes food trucks, chefs, nonprofits and businesses to provide meals for those impacted by the shutdown. You can donate money, time or other resources to their cause. #ChefsForFeds is run by World Central Kitchen, a national nonprofit organization that strives to eliminate hunger and poverty.
Greater DC Diaper Bank
In the next two weeks, the Greater DC Diaper Bank plans to distribute more than 200,000 diapers. That's far more than what the group anticipated just a few months ago. The nonprofit says every dollar donated provides up to eight diapers. The organization also collects and distributes women's hygiene products.
National Parks Foundation
Some of the country's most scenic national parks are suffering from overflowed garbage bins, unkempt bathrooms and trampled paths. Without staff, a complete assessment is impossible. But the National Parks Foundation is organizing volunteers and accepting funds to help parks recover once the shutdown ends.
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