Federal employees work for the government, but they’re also members of their local communities. They buy groceries, dine out, go to the movies. They pay taxes, take their kids to school, volunteer to clean up a local park. And when a disaster strikes, they spring into action – sometimes as both public servants and neighbors.
A few years ago, when residents of Flint, Michigan, faced a water crisis, AFGE members led by District 7 raised funds to distribute safe drinking water. And just before Christmas, District 7 came up with an idea to use the leftover funds from the Flint water fundraising effort. As many families in the Flint area were still in need of food, they decided to hold a food drive.
The organizers drew up a plan and purchased all the components of 125 holiday meals – turkey, potatoes, vegetables, pasta, rolls, cranberries and pies, along with some baby wipes and jugs of water. Operating out of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, whom they worked with during a Flint water distribution event, about 30 AFGE members and allies came out to distribute meals to 125 families. Many of these volunteers traveled great distances through snow and ice in order to come and help those in need.
“Being able to see the joy on the faces of the families we were helping was a truly heart-warming experience, and nothing compares to the feeling you get from being able to help people who need help the most and seeing firsthand the positive impact we can have in our communities when we work together,” said Border Patrol Agent Jason Anderson, president of AFGE Local 2499.
National Vice President for District 7 Dorothy James explained that her district decided to hold the food drive because after four years of undrinkable lead contaminated water, the community of Flint is still suffering. They are off the headlines and out of the minds of the public.
“The union’s effort to deliver Christmas meals to 125 families in need was a small effort to let them know they are not forgotten,” said NVP James.
AFGE volunteers who attended the food drive came from Local 1626, 1658, 3239, 3272, 2092, 2499, 933, 2814 and 2274. AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. and Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber were also present.