The ongoing federal government shutdown, which entered its 21st day on Friday, and is now tied for the longest ever, is very much a political story. But there’s a personal component as well — one that it’s easy to miss. The Twitter hashtag #ShutdownStories, for example, offers a heartbreaking look at one personal account after another of how the shutdown is affecting ordinary, unpaid government workers, many of whom are worried about making ends meet and about a future that still seems very much up in the air.
And now the crowdfunding site GoFundMe has confirmed another effect of the shutdown. According to the site, federal employees have set up almost 1,000 pages to try and raise money to help pay their expenses. They’ve set up campaigns to raise funds that range from a few hundred dollars to thousands, for everything from bills to utilities and groceries.
Here’s an example of one such page, set up by a mother in Florissant, Missouri: “I am a single mom of 6 children who depend solely on me,” she writes on her page. “As a veteran and federal employee my only income has been stopped do to the government shutdown. I have sought and exhausted all other resources but they have not been enough to keep up with my bills or my (children’s) needs. I am not sure when will be able to return to work and I am merely asking for those who can to please help with a monetary donation of your choice.- A mom in need…. God Bless”
So far, a GoFundMe spokesmen confirmed to CNET, the shutdown-related campaigns have collectively raised about $150,000. A search on the GoFundMe website Friday morning for “government shutdown” returned 1,771 results.
“I have not worked since Christmas due to the government shutdown,” according to another GoFundMe page from a wife and mother in Haughton, Louisiana. “As a government contractor, my company allowed us to use borrowed PTO to help during the first couple of weeks during the shutdown, however I will soon have exhausted all allotted PTO for the next year. This really sucks because I will have a newborn baby who will need me to take him to doctors appointments and care for him if he becomes ill, but I will no long have the PTO to do that … My husband and I will have to live on his paycheck alone and will not be able to pay our bills; in particular our mortgage and our car note. If you can help us in any way we will be forever grateful.”
Some 800,000 federal employees aren’t being paid while the shutdown continues.