Grand Haven businesses helping Coast Guard members during shutdown

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — As Coast Guard members continue to work without a paycheck due to the government shutdown, area businesses are looking for ways to help. Almost 30 days into the government shutdown, Coast Guard members in Grand Haven are continuing to work without a paycheck.

A number of businesses in Grand Haven are offering free meals and services for Coast Guard members and their families and are also collecting donations to help out where they can.

"We get to talk to these guys coming in for their haircuts, and you hear things like, 'It’s kind of weird going to work and not getting a check,' and things like that," said Paul Villescas, owner of Art's Barber Shop. "So -- just want to do what you can to help."

Villescas has gotten to know Coast Guard members in Grand Haven over the years, and now he’s offering free haircuts for all active Coast Guard personnel because of the shutdown.

"They’re just a big part of our shop, they’re a big part of our business, we get to know these families really well," said Villescas. "They’re good guys, and they’re just fun to be around, and we just want to show our appreciation.”

The local American Legion is offering free meals twice a week, inspired some other restaurants in the area to do something similar.

The Paisley Pig in Grand Haven is serving free pizzas for the Coast Guard and free meals for their kids. "My wife and I started to talk about it and thought it would be a great way for us to be able to give back for the services that the Coast Guard does," said Joshua Sandberg, owner of The Paisley Pig. "So we’ve decided to jump on board and do this."

"I’m just glad that we can do our part," said Sandberg. "I know they sacrifice a lot. For this, another hardship for their families to go through, if we can do a small little bit to give back, why not?”

Sandberg says they’re just one of many restaurants in town doing the same thing, adding he’s not surprised by the community’s support. "I think it’s great to see everybody as a community coming together to just to try to help out as much as we can," said Sandberg.

All weekend, Pronto Pups is donating all of its funds to the local Coast Guard station’s members.

"We’ll be here Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 to 8," said Carl Nelson, owner of Pronto Pups. "This year we selected Grand Haven Coast Guard: they’re going to receive the funds for it, because our government is not providing an income for them right now.”

Nelson says the decision was easy.

"That’s what communities do," said Nelson. "That’s how it’s supposed to be. Something gets weakened in the community, you step up and you take part and get them back up to par.”

There is also a donation drop off for Coast Guard members and their families by the Chief Petty Officers Association. They’re collecting at the Coast Guard building located next to the American Legion from 9 to 12 pm on Friday.

Here are items that are needed:

  • Diapers size 3-4
  • Milk
  • Coffee
  • Creamer
  • Dish soap
  • Detergent
  • Dog and cat food
  • Goldfish crackers
  • Granola bars
  • Bread
  • Meats
  • Cheeses
  • Vegetables
Donations are also accepted in the form of gift cards or checks written to CPOA Grand Haven.

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