Residents rally for Coasties

Becky Vargo • Jan 18, 2019 at 7:00 AM

The residents of Coast Guard City, USA, are responding en masse to support Coast Guard personnel who are not being paid as the federal government shutdown continues.

As of Thursday afternoon, a fundraiser for the Chief Petty Officers Association hosted by the Grand Haven Tribune had already resulted in the collection of more than $10,000 in cash, checks and gift cards.

Food, pet food, diapers and cleaning supplies are also being collected at the Tribune’s offices, 101 N. Third St. Collections for the same items were scheduled at the Coast Guard’s Sector Field Office Grand Haven, 650 S. Harbor Ave., from 9-11 a.m. Friday (today) and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

See related story: “These local businesses are supporting local Coast Guard personnel”

Dave Karpin, president of the local chapter of the Chief Petty Officers Association, said the response to the collection on Thursday “was overwhelming.” He noted that distributions were being made to the Coast Guard families to make room for the weekend collections.

“There’s about 200 people we’re supplying money to, so it doesn’t go far,” said Karpin, while encouraging people to keep donating.

Eight-year-old Mari Doran delivered a check supplied by the Grand Haven girl’s grandmother, Cathee Lemke of Spring Lake.

“We talked about it,” Mari said. “We decided to donate it to the Coast Guard people.”

Gay Maria Ray stopped at the Tribune offices with several bags full of granola from The People Center in Spring Lake.

“Our shelves are full this month,” said Ray, who used to work at the Coast Guard Festival office.

Coast Guard Festival Director Mike Smith said that donations are also being accepted at his office, 113 N. Second St., during regular business hours, which are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. There is also a mail slot where people can drop donations that are placed in envelopes.

Any cash or checks will be used to purchase gift cards, Smith said. The gift cards are given to command officers so they can give them to Coast Guard personnel who go to them with needs, Smith said.

Donations to the Coast Guard Festival are tax exempt because it is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Smith said.

Donations to the Chief Petty Officers Association are not tax exempt. The military organization is a 501(c)(19) nonprofit, Karpin said. 

While there’s not an end in sight to the shutdown, federal employees did receive some positive news Wednesday as President Donald Trump signed legislation guaranteeing furloughed employees their back pay.

Go to our website, grandhaventribune.com, for a list of local businesses that are rallying to help local federal employees during the government shutdown.

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