While the government is shut down, a Tarpon Springs charity is stepping up. Fort Valor offered Jiu-Jitsu lessons Saturday and took donations for Coast Guard members who aren't getting paid.
“It is not right to ask someone to defend your country and to not give them a paycheck,” said Allie Sakezles, one of Fort Valor’s founders. “It's just wrong.”
Sakezles recently started Fort Valor to serve veterans. She didn't realize how quickly she'd need to help active duty military.
“My feeling is if you can do something, you should do something, and that's what we're doing here today,” she explained.
Down the road in Dunedin, it’s easy to see Happy’s Bayou Bites supports the military. The front of the restaurant is lined with flags for the different branches. During the shutdown, the restaurant is cooking up free meals for Coast Guard members.
“We've got a lot of Coast Guard customers, so we just want to show that we're supporting them and help them get through this crisis,” owner Mark Jordan said.
Jordan is retired Army and his two kids are in the military, so he sympathizes with the members of the only branch not getting a paycheck.
“It’s kind of like the family business,” he said of serving his country. “Other than making po' boys and gumbo, yeah.”
Whether it's through free food or martial arts, these people want Coast Guard Members to know that even when politicians aren't coming together, their community will.
Meanwhile, TSA agents are also working without pay. Tampa International Airport and United Way Suncoast have partnered to open a food bank for them.
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