Popular crowdfunding website GoFundMe on Saturday launched its own campaign to raise money for the hundreds of thousands of federal workers harmed by the ongoing partial government shutdown.
The fund will distribute donations to several nonprofit organizations across the country that are providing assistance to government employees who have been furloughed or, if deemed essential, continue to work without pay during the shutdown, according to a GoFundMe press release.
“Government workers, through no fault of their own, can’t afford to put diapers on their newborns,” GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon said in a statement Saturday. “Employees of the most powerful nation in the world are being forced to work without pay and line up at diaper or food banks. It makes no sense.”
As of Sunday morning, the fund had raised over $35,000 of its $50,000 goal. GoFundMe matched a $10,000 donation from author and speaker Deepak Chopra, according to the group’s press release.
National Diaper Bank Network and celebrity chef José Andrés’ initiative to feed hungry federal workers will reportedly receive support from the fund.
“I wish we did not have to start a GoFundMe to help federal workers,” Solomon said. “Unfortunately we do. And because we live in an imperfect world, we have a simple choice: We can feel helpless while tragedy unfolds, or we can take action.”
He continued, “To all of the government workers out there furloughed or working without pay: We are with you. We hope this ends soon and your lives return to normal.”
The shutdown, which began Dec. 22, has affected over 800,000 federal employees across several government agencies, including the Interior Department and the Department of Homeland Security.
Though these workers will likely receive back pay once the government reopens, those living paycheck to paycheck are struggling to make ends meet in the interim.
What’s more, government contract workers will likely never receive retroactive pay. It’s unclear how many of these workers have been impacted, though estimates range from hundreds of thousands to millions.
Over 1,500 GoFundMe campaigns have been launched by federal workers seeking money for food, rent and medical bills since the shutdown started.
“I just don’t know how I’m going to make it,” Nila Cleckley, who has been deemed an essential government employee and is a mother of two, wrote on her GoFundMe page. “I’m never one to beg or ask for help but this is my only option.”
Failed negotiations between President Donald Trump and Congress have led the longest shutdown in U.S. history ― with no apparent end in sight.
Trump on Saturday offered to extend protections for refugees and undocumented immigrants who came here as children by three years in exchange for $5.7 billion in funding toward his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) dismissed the offer as a “non-starter.”
Trump’s proposal is a “compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives,” Pelosi said in a statement.
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