The American Pakistani Public Affairs Committee and Assemblyman David Weprin collected food and toiletries to aid workers affected by the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
Nearly 800,000 people across the country have already missed two paychecks and evidence of their hardships is growing. Many could not pay their mortgage or afford medical care and food.
“Federal workers are providing important services that keep our government functional,” said Weprin. “If our own government won’t support its workers, we as a community must step up.”
On Friday, the roughly 100 care packages were donated to the Morris Brown A.M.E. Church Helping Hand food pantry, located at 145-03 Rockaway Boulevard in Jamaica.
Each care package contained canned fruit, pasta, paper towels and other necessities.
Ali Rashid and other members of the American Pakistani Public Affairs Committee said they wanted to be good neighbors by offering assistance to those in need.
The nationwide group is dedicated to empowering the Pakistani American community and promoting better relations between the U.S. and Pakistan.
“New York City is the world’s melting pot, where all cultures come together and coalesce,” Rashid said. “It gives us a grander perspective of life and more importantly what it means to be human.”
The Morris Brown A.M.E. Church pantry has been operating since the mid-90s. The pantry and soup kitchen combined serve nearly 400 people each week.
Volunteers Ruth Roseborough and Ann Shah typically are limited to giving out canned and frozen food, but the Food Bank for New York City provided them with more meals for the care packages.
“We have quite a lot to give out and that’s a very good thing,” Roseborough said. “We want to do as much as we can to help out.”
If there is another partial government shutdown, Roseborough said Helping Hand will probably host further drives for government workers and contractors.
“Our government is so disconnected with the people who are working class, and that’s where the problem is,” said committee member Tariq Khan. “We know it’s very little that we’re doing, but the whole purpose is chipping in.”
Khan added the group wanted to work with Helping Hand because of their reach and work with the community in southeast Queens.
Siema Khichi previously worked in the airline industry, and wanted to volunteer her time to help TSA workers.
“I’m an immigrant, and this is the least we can do for the country that has done so much for us,” Khichi said.