Local businesses pitch in for furloughed workers

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Montana Coffee Traders was one of a few local businesses trying to help furloughed federal workers during the record 35-day shutdown. (Daniel McKay/Whitefish Pilot)

Whitefish’s small businesses helped out furloughed federal workers during the record 35-day federal government shut down, which ended last Friday.

The government shutdown came as Congress and President Trump could not reach an agreement on a budget that included funding for a wall at the country’s southern border. Trump on Jan. 25 agreed to re-open the government for three weeks to put 800,000 furloughed employees back to work.

Montana Coffee Traders held company-wide “Furlough Fridays” that offered free coffee to furloughed workers every Friday, while Sweet Peaks Ice Cream offered a free cone to government employees.

At Montana Coffee Traders, manager Jessie Farnes said they just hoped to help with the resources they have.

“We’re a company that’s really heavily connected with the community and we wanted to do whatever little thing we could to help support those people that aren’t getting paid,” Farnes said. “Let’s at least be able to give them free coffee on Fridays and have that be step one to something we can do to be helpful.”

“It’s a tough time, and regardless of how you feel about any of the details, it’s tough to see people out of work,” she added.

Park Side Credit Union also offered two-month payment skips and fee refunds to any federal workers who incurred fees on a skipped payment, joining a number of credit unions across the state helping furloughed employees.

The North Valley Food Bank also encouraged furloughed workers to come in and stock up on food, and a group of nearly 20 Glacier National Park employees came in and volunteered in early January.

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