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Pop up pantry at Coast Guard Academy softens the blow of the shutdown

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NEW LONDON - One of the Coast Guard's missions, of course, is to save people. But now, it is they, who are being rescued by the community.

The United States Coast Guard Academy, in New London, is home to a growing pop-up food pantry, which is preventing the cupboard from going bare.

"The fact that we don’t have to worry right now, that is due to all of the help in the community," said Anna Griffiths, the wife of an enlisted man.

The local food bank is among those paying it forward. The Gemma Moran Food Pantry delivered enough food to feed 200 people Wednesday.

"The Coast Guard has been very generous as they have donated food," said Dina Sears-Graves, who operates the Gemma Moran Food Bank. "They’ve run food drives. They help us at our warehouse."

"The first thing I’ve got to say is we are very appreciative, the family and I, and I’m sure everyone else here appreciates it," said Sean Blas, USCG Petty Officer 3rd Class, as he and his family were gathering food.
Also lending a helping hand: local lending institutions.

"The impact on them could be short term, because they are prepared, or it could be a long-term, because they have no savings at all," said Lori Dufficy, Exec. VP, Chelsea Groton Bank.
The banks say they will review customer needs on a case by case basis.

"For several members, we’ve done mortgage modifications so that they wouldn’t have to make a payment for let’s say three or four months," said Brian Orenstein, President and CEO of Charter Oak Federal Credit Union.

"I guess, for us, personally, we haven’t been as affected as badly as others.," said Kasey Vega, the wife of an enlisted. "So, we do have some savings. Some other people just don’t have that."

But, the coasties will have the pop up pantry at least through Tuesday.

"And we will reevaluate that based on circumstances beyond our control," said Craig Breverman Pres., Southeastern Connecticut Chief Petty Officers Association.

In addition to local food pantries and charities, some 150 families or more have donated money, gift cards, food and toiletries. If you would like to make a donation, you can do so by visiting the Academy, with a valid driver's license.

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