Delaware businesses give helping hands to furloughed federal employees

DOVER — Kent and Sussex businesses and organizations are stepping to the plate to support furloughed federal employees now missing paychecks during the partial government shutdown that began last month.

Kick n’ Chicken, a chain of restaurants in Long Neck, Milford and Lewes owned by Charlie Pollard, is offering free meals to any furloughed or unpaid federal employees until they return to work.

“Rosenfeld’s Deli started by offering it to the Salisbury Airport employees that are federal employees,” said Mr. Pollard. “Warren Rosenfeld and I are friends, and I took note when he did that, but I didn’t see where I could do anything over here in this community. And then when it hit the newspaper that the Coast Guard was directly affected in our community, I stepped up.”

U.S. Coast Guard employees, some who may be stationed at Indian River Inlet, are among workers now impacted.

Mr. Pollard’s Kick n’ Chicken offer is “unlimited free meals until this thing is over. If they want chicken every day and want to feed their family – immediate family – chicken every day, I am willing to do that.”

His offer includes a spirited challenge.

“But part of my offer to that, out to the community is, I would like to see every restaurant do the same thing,” said Mr. Pollard. “I am willing to step up and do it all. But I think there has got to be a spirit of community.

“These unfortunate people are being affected by this and it’s not their doing of their own.”

DiFebo’s, a popular restaurant with locations in Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach, announced on social media Wednesday it would provide free meals to federal employees with proper ID.

Meanwhile, American Legion Unit 28 Auxiliary in Millsboro launched an assistance campaign to support the U.S. Coast Guard, which in southern Delaware includes the Indian River Inlet in Rehoboth Beach and Marine Safety Detachment in Lewes.

“We are going to donate gift cards,” said Linda Shelly, president of Unit 28 Auxiliary in Millsboro. “We have donations up to $1,500.”

In consultation with the Coast Guard commander, Ms. Shelly said Unit 28 will purchase and “donate Walmart gift cards, so people can get their food there and whatever, and gift cards from Wawa so they will be able to put gas in their cars to go where they need to go.”

Gift cards will be forwarded to the Coast Guard for distribution to workers, who this week missed their first paycheck.

An “honor system” is in place at Kick n’ Chicken regarding proof of identification.

“I have discussed that with the managers, and we are not going to create a confrontational situation that is uncomfortable for anybody. It’s nice if they are able to show their ID.

“But surely if somebody is in the Coast Guard and their wife is concerned about making dinner for the kids or whatever and they just need a meal, we’ve got you covered,” said Mr. Pollard.

“If they come in and say, ‘I would give you some sort of ID, but my husband is out on a boat,’ who are we to argue with that?” We’re not going to argue with people.”

“There probably are dishonest people out there. But I think in the spirit of what we are offering, there won’t be many,” said Mr. Pollard. “So, I am asking my managers to err on the side of doing the generous thing.”

Mr. Pollard noted veterans’ organizations such as American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars are also coming forward.

“I think that is great,” said Mr. Pollard. “These are victims of politics. This is about taking care of people that are affected again by nothing they have done. They are just innocent people, trying to do the right thing every day, working hard, which

“I appreciate it when anybody works hard. They’ll probably get paid when this is all said and done.

“But in the meantime, people need to eat, every day. You can’t eat on tomorrow’s money if you don’t have it.”

“It comes from the heart,” said Mr. Pollard. “Warren Rosenfeld is Jewish. I am Jewish. And as children we were taught the importance of giving back and being compassionate. That is a requirement of our religion. It’s who we are.

“It’s just what we do. At end of day you do what you are passionate about.”

Shutdown assistance loan

During the duration of the shutdown, individuals serving within the U.S. military may face financial hardship.

In response, Dover Federal Credit Union effective has begun offering loans to members directly affected.

In the event the government fails to pay employees while the shutdown is occurring, qualifying members may receive up to 75 percent of their normal net pay for each of their scheduled pay periods.

Once the shutdown has ended and the payroll of those impacted has been restored, the amount borrowed will remain at 0 percent interest for the next 60 days and can be paid in full at any time.

After 60 days has passed, any remaining balance will be converted into a 3 percent interest rate and will be given a 12 month repayment period.

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