Shepherdstown Shares: Community rallies together during uncertain times
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Change starts with one person. And, in the case of the government shutdown, the person to instigate local change was Shepherdstown resident Kerri Godfrey.
Godfrey, whose husband is one of 600 Coast Guard members stationed in the Eastern Panhandle, said the government shutdown meant all of those people went unpaid for the 34 days it was in effect. Although Godfrey and her husband had saved up to prepare for an event like this, she was concerned for the families of her husband’s colleagues and the families of the many other local furloughed federal workers and contractors.
On Jan. 18, Godfrey acted upon her concern and visited the Shepherdstown Visitors Center. SVC Director Marianne Davis immediately agreed to help offer relief to those in need, beginning with contacting potential volunteers and organizations.
“I had to do this, otherwise I’m just going to get bitter, so let’s help each other through a difficult time,” Godfrey said. “The need is greater than people realize.”
Under the name “Shepherdstown Shares,” a group of over 30 volunteers joined with Godfrey, the SVC, the Shepherdstown Community Club and the Shepherdstown Lion’s Club. Connecting with the community through the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/Shepherdstown-Shares-A-Community-Response-to-the-Shutdown-469174890278713/, Shepherdstown Shares publicized discounts or free food/services offered by local businesses to those presenting federal identification. The group’s main purpose, however, was to turn 108 South Princess Street into a food pantry for those in need of food or hygiene items, and raise enough money to give every federal employee a $50 gift card for food or gasoline.
“We’ve received items from 100 people and monetary donations from about 100 people,” Davis said. “Shepherdstown’s just that sort of town.”
Thanks to the generosity of the Shepherdstown community as of Friday, $6,000 were raised to purchase the gift cards, and the food pantry’s shelves were filled. Godfrey and a group of volunteers were finishing organizing the last few boxes of detergent on Friday afternoon, when a fellow volunteer burst through the doors, bearing some good news.
“Did you hear the news? The government will be temporarily open for three weeks!” she said.
Although the news brought a sense of hope to the volunteers, they continued to put the finishing touches on their work. According to Godfrey, those in need wouldn’t receive their paychecks for a few days, so the relief offered by the food pantry from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday was still important.
And, Godfrey said, the need for the food pantry to be there may return at the end of the shutdown’s three-week reprieve. Those running and supporting Shepherdstown Shares will continue to accept donations, provide aid and prepare for Feb. 25.
“It’s so heart-warming to see how the community is getting together to support the workers,” Godfrey said. “It’s so beautiful — we have such a caring town.”