When the shutdown of the federal government halted paychecks for local Coast Guard personnel, the people of Grand Haven and the surrounding areas rallied.
It started with an on-air plea for help by Eric Kaelin at radio station WAWL. He quickly realized that he wasn’t equipped to handle the outpouring of support, so he asked the Tribune to lend a hand.
Our doors have never been as busy as the several days following Kaelin’s initial plea. We had people coming in from the start of the business day to the close, and all hours in between, donating cash, checks and gift cards.
When we said we’d serve as a collection point for food and other necessities, we were soon overrun with grocery bags and boxes full of food, toiletries and much more.
Each day, David Karpin, a member of the local Chief Petty Officers Association, would stop in and marvel at the amount of donations dropped off. He remarked several times how much the local Coast Guard folks appreciated the outpouring of both monetary and emotional support.
Nearly everyone in Grand Haven feels a special connection to the Coast Guard, in part due to the popular festival that takes place each summer.
But before the federal government shutdown, what was the relationship between the Coast Guard and the people of Grand Haven? That’s hard to say. But it’s not a stretch to say that the bond between the Coasties and residents of our Lakeshore communities has grown much stronger in the face of this adversity.
This was a chance for us to show that we truly are Coast Guard City, USA, and we certainly did so.
Thank you to everyone who donated during the time of need, and thank you to the local Coast Guard men and women who continued to do their job despite not receiving a paycheck.
Heroes come in many shapes and forms. Those who are willing to put their life on the line to help others — while not being paid for their services — certainly qualify.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Matt DeYoung, Mark Brooky, Josh VanDyke and Duncan MacLean. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to [email protected] or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.