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No Wall Divides Huntsville as Neighbor Helps Neighbor During Shutdown

She’s recently divorced and lives in a 1-bedroom apartment.

Her ex-husband has custody of their children – though she sees them every weekend.

Due to our recent political climate, the dad – a government contractor – has been furloughed with a mortgage payment and kids to feed.

Mom reached out to her neighbors and friends via Facebook asking if they had “any extras in their pantry” to help make sure the kids are fed while her ex works – at a temp job – to keep a roof over their heads. And he feels lucky to have the job.

The friends and neighbors have answered with bags and boxes of canned goods, toiletries and other items to help during this stressful time.

This, unfortunately, is happening in all parts of Huntsville and Madison County and affecting all walks of life – supervisors, engineers, production workers, administrative personnel and custodial workers.

If you notice, I didn’t say “federal workers.” These folks work for companies that contract with federal agencies. They are furloughed because there is no money to pay them due to the shutdown. But, unlike federal workers, the contractors don’t receive back pay.

So, not only are some of our families, friends and neighbors in need of some help now, they will be until the shutdown ends and the money starts flowing.

In the meantime, help is coming from other directions.

Several banks and credit unions are offering furlough loans at 0 percent or a low percentage rate and some temp services have short-term employment opportunities.

Huntsville Utilities is asking customers who may have difficulty paying their bills due to the shutdown to give them a call, and they’ll work with customers and explain their options.

In a gesture reflecting its mission, Oakwood University’s farm is giving away fresh fruit, vegetables and grain this Saturday (Jan. 19) 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to federal furloughed workers. It is first come, first served.

The website of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber has a news article on the agencies and businesses that are stepping up at www.hsvchamber.org.

If you are a business owner or know of someone who has services to offer, drop us a line here so we can let everyone know.

Let’s step up Huntsville and not let a wall separate us from our compassion for others.