As federal workers toil through history’s longest government shutdown, one CNN anchor changed gears from journalism to advocacy in an on-air plea to help those in need.
“The stories are becoming more desperate,” Victor Blackwell told audiences on Saturday morning’s “New Day” broadcast. “People are pawning their wedding rings to pay rent, deciding between buying medicine and paying the power bill, selling their Christmas presents to make ends meet, to buy food.”
While Blackwell noted that he’s fortunate to never have been without a paycheck, as furloughed federal workers are, he admitted that when he was younger and earning less money, times were tough.
“I know what it feels like to open the refrigerator and there’s nothing but condiments and ice, to hope that it’s someone’s birthday at work the next day and there’s a potluck so you can have lunch tomorrow,” he said.
“No working person, especially not people who work for us, who work for the American people, should have to struggle the way that federal workers are right now.”
That’s when Blackwell announced, “I’m going to do something that I’ve never done,” promoting a local Atlanta food bank to which he’d donated, and calling for viewers to do the same in their own communities.
He’s accompanying the initiative with a #ShutdownHunger hashtag on social media to help spread the word.
The shutdown, which is nearing its second month, has left thousands of federal staffers either out of work or forced to show up without pay, impacting some 800,000 people, according to The Washington Post.
On Saturday, Capital Area Food Bank told the outlet it had assisted 1,140 federal employees that day alone across eight locations in the Virginia area just outside Washington, D.C.