By Donna Cipolloni, NAS Patuxent River Public Affairs

ST. INIGOES, Maryland (NNS) -- Operating under the Department of Homeland Security and not the Department of Defense, the Coast Guard was the only branch of the United States military affected by the government shutdown. About 42,000 active-duty Coast Guardsmen – all considered essential personnel – reported for duty and worked without pay.

After learning that some of their fellow service members at Coast Guard Station St. Inigoes were having to take on part-time jobs during the shutdown period, the Chief Petty Officers Association (CPOA) at NAS Patuxent River decided to take action and came up with the idea of collecting nonperishable donations to assist them.

They shouldn’t have to worry about taking care of their families financially while still proudly coming to work every day to patrol our shore,” said Chief Aviation Electronics Technician Tracy Moore, president of the Pax River CPOA. “Once it was brought to the CPOA’s attention, we vetted the idea through [Pax River’s] Command Master Chief Kevin Guy and he loved the idea of us taking care of our own.”

Emails were sent to command senior leadership across the installation, and the NAS public affairs officer posted notice of the collection effort on various NAS social media sites. Word spread quickly, and though the CPOA Goat Locker served as the primary drop-off point aboard the installation, community organizations such as Patuxent River Habitat for Humanity; Fleet Reserve Association, Branch 93; American Legion, Post 255; and Care Net Pregnancy Center also offered their support as drop-off points outside the fence line.

People donated gift cards, nonperishable items and various goods such as diapers, wipes and paper products, and CPOA members collected the donations and delivered them to St. Inigoes weekly.

Approximately $10,000 in goods was donated to support the Coast Guardsmen and the last delivery was made Jan. 30. With the government reopened for at least another three weeks, Coast Guard personnel will begin receiving paychecks again and the CPOA has suspended their donation drive at this time.

There are many folks in the community who are connected to the military in one way or another,” said Chief Cryptologic Technician Interpretive Stephanie Dee, vice president of the Pax CPOA. “The response was incredible. We are truly blessed with the overwhelming support of our community to help out our fellow service members.”