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"Gas money or diapers, gas money or food?" Mothers coming together to help furloughed families

Posted at 5:42 PM, Jan 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-15 08:27:29-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — “He loves his job…He loves his job.”

In her kitchen early Monday afternoon Morgan Kelley talks about her husband who has been a border patrol agent for the last 10 years.

“Whatever he needs to do - as a family we do it, because that’s how much he loves it.”

Her husband was on the Mexican border in December when the possibility of a government shutdown started to loom over federal workers.

“He was actually at the line because of the caravan, so we were here alone and we were very nervous about what that meant for him, him getting home, Christmas, and both of our daughter’s birthday’s are in December.”

He made it home just before his two girls’ birthdays in December…but for the last 24 days he’s been working for free.

Morgan stays at home to care for their three children, a reality for many border patrol wives because of the travel and cross-country moves that come with the job.

“I could work, but we can’t afford day care for two kids and we have one vehicle.”

Morgan says that at the beginning of the shutdown, she and her husband figured they could make it to the end of January.

That time is now, and among other border patrol wives she connects with through Facebook groups - she says the mood is somber.

“It’s different on our support pages, with the wives, we’re saying: it’ll be over soon. You can make it a couple more know? {but} when February’s rent is due . . . we can’t pay it.”

There is another group on Facebook that is stepping in to help - the “Buffalo Moms” page.

It’s founder Katelyn Burns created a post saying, in part:

“If you are a Coast Guard, TSA, SNAP, or WIC family who's pay and/or benefits are indefinitely furloughed, please comment below with what might be most helpful for your family at this time.”

It was also meant to connect families that are willing and able to help, the post continues: “If you or your family are in a position to help, please comment below with the type of assistance you're able to give.”

7 Eyewitness News obtained permission to share the post from the closed facebook group created for mothers in Western New York.

“Reaching out is tough, but having people all say “I have THIS” makes it that much easier,” said Burns.”

The post now has over 70 comments with mothers connecting to help other mothers.

“It’s hard to find places that will allow you to say “I am a government worker, how can I get help?”

It’s been particularly helpful for families like the Kelley’s who are not able to ask for donations because of the Border Control’s ethics guidelines, and are unable to apply for unemployment because, technically, dad is still going to work.

“When it comes down to: my husband has to go to work - and then you have to choose gas money or diapers, gas money or food…” said Kelley.

Many have reached out to 7 Eyewitness News interested in offering assistance to furloughed families, The “Buffalo Moms” page founder provided the following guidelines:

  • Send a request to join the group
  • You can search “Buffalo Moms” on Facebook
  • The group requires members to live in Buffalo/ Western New York, and prefers mothers
  • Wait for Burns to approve request
  • Comment on thread with what assistance you might be able to provide: monetary donations, grocery items, diapers, wipes, utility bill payment assistance, etc.

Email with any questions.

The following companies are working with families affected during the shutdown on a case-by-case basis, contact customer service, or go to a local bank branch for more information:
- KeyBank
- National Fuel
- National Grid