“It’s been tough,” Federal employees in Oklahoma get helping hand amid shutdown

OKLAHOMA CITY — Several local organizations are stepping up to help the thousands of government employees in Oklahoma who are affected by the government shutdown by giving them food, hygiene products and other items.

On Monday, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma partnered with several other local organizations to set up a mobile distribution center for federal employees on day 31 of the government shutdown.

"It's been tough, but we've been dealing with it. Stuff like this helps us out a lot,” Michael Anderson, who works as a remote pilot operator, told News 4.

"Because, unfortunately, we're used to doing large distributions like this for disasters, we knew that we had to do something. So, I started calling around, tracking people down really fast,” said Katie Fitzgerald, CEO of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

Fitzgerald was able to gather several local organizations that wanted to lend a helping hand.

The food bank provided 75,000 pounds of food, while United Way of Central Oklahoma had several agencies on hand to help with utility payments and counseling services.

Infant Crisis Services provided formula, diapers, baby wipes and baby food. Feed the Children provided bags containing personal hygiene items.

"It's very nice and generous for them to do that for us,” said Trish Lowther, who works for TSA at Will Rogers World Airport.

"We're hurting the very people that keep the country running, and now we're getting to the point where it's been long enough that we're going to start seeing economic implications from this,” said Carl Dahms, who works at Tinker Air Force Base.

Dahms said he’s still getting paid, so he decided to volunteer at the distribution center Monday.

"When this thing started, I didn't believe that it would ever go this long and, since it has gone as long as it has, I have no doubt that there's no hurry to get these federal employees paid,” he said.

Dahms said he was frustrated Saturday when President Trump offered to temporarily protect the hundreds of DACA recipients in exchange for $5.7 billion for a border wall. Democrats quickly rejected the proposal.

"It just makes no sense at all that we're furloughing federal employees over a partisan issue,” Dahms said.

Officials with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma said, if the government shutdown continues, there may be another event in the coming days.

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