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A little concept called hardship

In Theodore, Alabama, Theodore Veterinary Hospital has offered active duty Coast Guard personnel free veterinary exams for their pets — a way to ease whatever financial hardship personnel at U.S. Coast Guard Sector Mobile and USCG Aviation Training Center may be facing.

Closer to home, at First United Methodist Church in Elizabeth City, 20 preschool students in their program have been affected by the partial federal government shutdown. In the same town as USCG Air Station Elizabeth City, the church had already told their preschoolers’ families that tuition would be deferred until “the situation was resolved.” However, the owner of a local car dealership — Perry’s Performance Chevrolet and Team Perry’s Carolina Chrysler, Jeep Dodge, Ram division of the Perry Auto Group — stepped in and paid all the children’s February tuition fees in full.

“We thank Team Perry for supporting these families and giving them one less bill to have to pay when the shutdown is over,” reads a post by First United Methodist Church Preschool.

In Pitt County, a local restaurant has reached out to federal workers, as well. Villa Verde, a Dominican restaurant much-lauded for its Caribbean dishes, has offered free meals through Saturday to furloughed federal employees who live in Pitt County.

“If there is anything we can do to help our community — we are here,” Villa Verde’s offer reads.

Across the United States, people are reaching out to those in need, from a temporary job at a market in Washington, D.C., to groceries provided by the Jewish Family Service of San Diego, from free coffee and refills all day in Alaska, to a free meal per day at a California restaurant; from fresh produce, meat and other food to Atlanta’s 1,200 TSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees, to free tacos in Indianapolis, free shutdown-long gym memberships in Maine, free haircuts — and the list goes on.

This is what good people do when disaster occurs: they do what is needed to help strangers and neighbors alike. Beaufort County certainly saw this during and after Hurricane Florence last year. The desire to assist those in need is prevalent in those who have been through disasters of their own. Those who’ve been on the receiving end know how to repay the help offered.

Perhaps that’s the real reason this partial government shutdown drags on: the people responsible have rarely, if ever, been in a position of need. It’s hard to relate when money for mortgages, car payments, tuitions, food and more has never been an issue. It’s hard to make decisions, or compromise, to lessen hardship for others when one has little concept of what hardship actually is.

Unlike other disasters, this is no natural one. This one is man-made, by a very specific group of people. It’s a good thing the average people outside of Congress and the White House are willing to step in to help their fellow Americans.

Theodore Veterinary Hospital may have said it best in its Facebook post offering free pet care to Coast Guardsmen: “We will offer this until Washington gets its act together.”

Indeed.