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Church gave out $16,500 in grocery gift cards to furloughed federal workers

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The First Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama, is stepping in to help those impacted by the partial government shutdown.

Nicknamed “Rocket City,” Huntsville is home to roughly 40,000 federal workers and contractors, NBC News reported.

Huntsville is adjacent to Redstone Arsenal, which is not just a US Army post, but also the location of around 70 federal agencies, including NASA’s Marshall Flight Center, according to the Associated Press.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center which has been impacted by the partial federal government shutdown stands at the Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., Wednesday, Jan.. 9, 2019. The influx of people and federal dollars that arrived with NASA transformed the city into a technical and engineering hub that only grew as Army missile programs expanded on the base.
(AP Photo/David Goldman)

While the US Army is still paying its staff, at NASA, 95% of workers have been furloughed. More than 5,000 Huntsville residents have been impacted by the shutdown the AP reported — and the city is feeling the impact.

On Thursday, the First Baptist Church held an event where they not only gave out around $16,500 in grocery store gift cards (up to $100 per family), but they also hosted local organizations to provide information for furloughed workers who may be looking for assistance from food banks or help getting a short-term loan.

“I know these times have been challenging for you and your families,” Jody Singer, the director of the Marshall NASA Space Flight Center, told families, NBC News reported. “We want to make sure we lessen the burden on you.”

Michael Northern, vice president of WJP Restaurant Group, stands next to an empty table at dinnertime at Rocket City Tavern near numerous federal agencies in Huntsville, Ala., Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. “It’s a fog with no end in sight,” Northern said. The lunch crowd is still OK, he adds, but dinner dollars have dried up and business is off at least 35 percent. “People are just going home and nesting, trying to conserve resources,” Northern said.
(AP Photo/David Goldman)

Hotels and restaurants used to housing or feeding government employees or government contract workers are also being hit, as the AP explains, more than half of Huntsville’s economy relies on spending from Washington. DC.

“It’s a fog with no end in sight,” Michael Northern, vice president of WJP Restaurant Group told the AP. While the lunch crowd is OK, he said the dinner crowd has thinned.

“People are just going home and nesting, trying to conserve resources,” Northern continued. “Imagine being in that posture and hearing Donald Trump say, ‘It could be a year.'”

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