Times are tough for thousands of federal employees across the United States who are being asked to work without getting paid, and that’s been especially apparent with sweeping news stories about TSA agents and other travel-related furloughed employees.
From food banks to free services, people across North America are chipping in to help feed and sustain TSA, FAA, and Homeland Security employees. Check out these heartwarming stories and see if you’re not moved by this kindness.
Air Traffic Controllers Receive Pizza From Their Canadian Counterparts
The Canadian Air Traffic Control Association wanted to help out their American counterparts so, on Thursday, the CATCA control center in Edmonton, Alberta sent pizza over the border to their friends in Anchorage, Alaska and it snowballed from there. Other units in Canada copied Alberta, with some even sending pizza to far locales. For instance, an Alberta unit sent a pizza to an El Paso unit because both are oil towns.
CNN reported that 350 pizzas have been sent to 49 FAA units across the U.S.
“In the big scheme of things, sending some pizzas to people that are missing paychecks is a small gesture,” Peter Duffey, president of CATCA told CNN, “but the message that it sends them is a big gesture.”
Food Banks Feed TSA Agents Across the Nation
Multiple food banks are popping up in airports around the U.S. to feed TSA and FAA employees. St. Mary’s Food Bank set up by the TSA offices at Phoenix Skyharbor Airport on Monday and handed out 10,000 pounds of canned goods and fresh produce to 300 employees.
Tampa International Airport set up a food bank with the help of Feeding Tampa Bay and United Way Suncoast. They’re providing TSA, FAA, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection with food and toiletries.
Second Harvest food bank is doing a lot to provide food to TSA workers in Tennessee. They sent nearly one hundred emergency food boxes to McGhee Tyson Airport on Friday. In Nashville, volunteers gathered at a Second Harvest location to make 325 boxes for Nashville Airport TSA employees, while 171 boxes were made in Memphis, 57 in Chattanooga, and 34 at the Tri-Cities Regional Airport. They even brought a refrigerated truck to the Knoxville airport full of frozen turkeys, ham and produce.
Lakeview Pantry moved some TSA workers in Chicago to tears on Monday as they handed out food.
Kansas Teen Supplies Pizza Lunch for TSA Agents Impacted by Shutdown
Aislynn Buckner, 15, wanted to do something to help the 80 TSA employees at Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport after learning that they were missing out on their hard-earned paychecks.
On Friday, with the help of her mother, Buckner took 20 pizzas and six orders of breadsticks provided by Pizza Hut and generous donors to the airport and gave them to TSA employees who were very touched by her kindness.
“When I first realized that the government had been shut down and that the TSA agents in the airport weren’t getting paid, I thought maybe it would be nice to just get them lunch,” Buckner told KSN.com. “I just felt bad, I was like I got to do this, it just clicked in my mind.”
Low-Income Middle Schoolers Are Writing Letters and Sending Food to TSA Agents at Denver International Airport
Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders at the Denver School of Science & Technology Green Valley Ranch Middle School are working hard to bring some joy to furloughed workers at Denver International Airport. They’re writing letters and donating food to TSA and FAA workers who work just 15 minutes away from their school.
“Thank you for keeping all of us safe even though you guys do a lot of work and don’t get paid,” student Amala Ozoma read from one note.
The students have collected a small box of donated items like pasta, canned goods and non-perishable items. Compared to donations across the country, their donations may seem small but they’re big when you consider that the majority of the kids at this middle school are on free and reduced lunches and that at least seven out of ten kids have families that rely on food banks.
“I think they have a unique understanding of what some of these agents are going through,” sixth-grade teacher Shasta Smith said.
“They’re still doing their job. They could just go quit right now but they’re still out there protecting us so why not go out as a community and help them,” student Jalyn Fleming said.
The school is accepting contributions for the food drive in the front office of their middle school.
Companies Offering Discounts and Assistance
Hundreds of local restaurants and businesses in cities across the U.S. are offering discounts and free meals to furloughed workers, including those who work in the travel industry. While we’d love to list them all, we thought we’d look at some of the large national companies that are offering help to TSA, FAA, and Homeland security workers across the U.S.
Bank of America, Chase, Discover, and Wells Fargo are offering multiple options to furloughed employees that allow for them to skip some payments without consequences or offering low-interest loans to help workers pay their bills as the shutdown continues.
Wireless carriers like AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile are providing flexible payment options to furloughed workers, while Fazolis will be providing free Pizza Baked Spaghetti with a purchase of a drink to all furloughed employees with an ID through January 20th.
The Hudson Group, best known for their Hudson stores in 1,000 airports across the U.S., is offering TSA and customs workers 20 percent off food, beverages, and some store products. The special will continue until the end of the shutdown.