YORK TOWNSHIP –– If the way in which community members were able to pull together Tuesday’s benefit dinner is any indication, residents in Medina County not only recognize the struggles furloughed and unpaid federal workers feel in the face of the government shutdown, but also want to help.
“We identified that we have a need in our community,” said Jessica Riggs, one of the masterminds behind a spaghetti dinner and raffle held at York United Methodist Church.
“We wanted to do something to fill that need and that’s how the idea for the spaghetti dinner was born. In about 24 hours, we had secured the church and we had vendors who were willing to donate.”
With the government shutdown entering its second month, the goal of the dinner was to help raise money for families affected by the loss of household income. Admission was donation-based with raffles tickets sold for attendees to win gift baskets donated by local vendors.
“The goal is that after our cost, which was just our food, all of that will go back to the community for families who are directly affected,” Riggs said.
A total of what was raised was unavailable Tuesday night.
Columbia Gas said Tuesday that the following provisions are available to furloughed government employees impacted by the government shutdown.
The company announced it would waive late payment fees and offer extended payment arrangements for government employees directly affected by the shutdown.
“We know this may be a challenging time for some of our customers, especially those affected by the federal government shutdown,” said Dan Creekmur, president and COO of Columbia Gas.
“We would like to offer some payment solutions and reduce some of the stress during this already difficult time.”
Affected government employees should contact Columbia Gas at (800) 344-4077 to discuss payment situations.
For any customer struggling to pay a gas bill, Columbia offers payment plans, winter reconnect orders with a payment of $175 plus a small reconnection fee, low-income energy assistance programs available through local community action agencies or Salvation Army chapters and the Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus for households at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guideline.
And while furloughed workers did not attend the event, dozens of local residents came out to support the event.
“We feel for those people,” said Leah Comes, a Medina resident.
Comes and her husband, Chip, were enjoying their dinner with Cheryl and Bill Russo, also of Medina.
“We think it’s a wonderful cause. I would hope that people would do that for others if they need it,” Cheryl Russo said.
Volunteers who were staffing the event were there to help fulfill the need and to provide support just as much as the guests.
“Well, I really felt for the families who are affected by the government shutdown and wanted to do something to help support them,” said Jessica Peck, who helped in the kitchen during the event.
Riggs said event organizers are accepting requests from people in the area who need financial help. Those who do can email Liz Wolf at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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