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As Coast Guard members work without pay, a pop-up pantry is set up in Buffalo


U.S. Coast Guard personnel, including those stationed in Buffalo and at Fort Niagara, are among those continuing to work without pay amidst a lingering partial federal government shutdown. A pantry has been set up to assist them with basic needs, while the shutdown stalemate in Washington, DC continues.

The Eastern Great Lakes Chief Petty Officer Association represents an estimated 300 members from Cleveland to Alexandria Bay. The local chapter, which covers an estimatedf 40 individuals, has set up a pop-up pantry at the Coast Guard's station in Buffalo.

"We are collecting donations, currently. Nonperishable items, we have gotten some gift cards from our wonderful community that's showing support," said Joseph Lipp, president of the local chapter. "We have a process where we have to vote through the organization and then we distribute to members in need."

Cash donations are also accepted, according to Lipp. Checks may be made to Eastern Great Lakes CPOA. However, donations cannot be simply dropped off at the station. Lipp explained to WBFO that officers are accepting collections off-site.

"As members of Coast Guard, they have to operate within legal and ethical parameters for any kind of donations," he said. "Through the Eastern Great Lakes chapter of the COPA, those members of the COPA can accept donations off base and not in uniform."

To arrange a donation, Lipp recommends looking up the association's official Facebook site or emailing him at joseph.j.lipp@gmail.com.

He was asked about affected and unpaid Coast Guard personnel are carrying on. Lipp wouldn't comment specifically about their feelings but suggested they are being supported.

"That is one of the missions of the Eastern Great Lakes chapter of the CPOA, to do what we can, within our means, to make morale as best as possible," he said.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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