Tybee Marine Rescue Squadron collecting gift cards for local Coast Guard units

Local News

It is day 26 of the partial government shutdown and many federal workers are really feeling the impact.

That includes hundreds of active duty US Coast Guard members here in Chatham County who did not get paid Tuesday.

Now, the community is trying to help.

This community effort is being led by the Tybee Marine Rescue Squadron. They are collecting gift cards for things like gas and groceries to ease that financial burden for Coast Guard members like the ones stationed on Hunter Army Airfield. 

“I don’t feel like any of them have deep pockets, you know, and they’re kind of like the rest of us. They live week to week and this is probably hurting them really bad,” said Barry Brown, a volunteer for the Tybee Marine Rescue Squadron.

Brown is also a member of Tybee Island City Council — and he knows what it’s like to miss a paycheck.

“You know, think about yourself. You come across the first pay period and you didn’t get a check. You’ve got bills to pay and you’ve got creditors on you, so it gets pretty tough,” said Brown.

The Marine Rescue Squadron, backed by the City of Tybee, wants to ease that financial burden.

“Here at the local level where the rubber meets the road, where we see these people in action, its incumbent upon us to do what we can to help them out,” said Tybee Mayor Jason Buelterman. “Obviously that little bit that we may do won’t make up for the paychecks they are missing, but it can’t hurt.”

Tybee Island is one of only 28 cities in the U.S. designated as a Coast Guard community, which is one of the reasons residents are rallying behind the effort.

“Well, it’s not that its just Tybee’s way of doing things, you know. Tybee always helps their own,” said Brown. “It’s their way of doing things. They’ve done it for me back 4 or 5 years ago when my family had a tragedy, you know. They helped us out and all.”

The U.S. Coast Guard is unlike other branches of the military because they fall under the Department of Homeland Security. While other military members are unaffected by the shutdown — that’s not the case for the Coast Guard.

“Maybe you can miss a paycheck, but they have another pay period coming, I think February 1,” said Buelterman.

If you’d like to help out you drop off gift cards or cash donations of no more than 20 dollars at Tybee City Hall. 

On February 1, the city and squadron will be presenting those gift cards to the Coast Guard Commander at Fort Pulaski for distribution to the five local units.

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