A Westport nonprofit is collecting donations to help keep unpaid local Coast Guard members and their families afloat during the government shutdown.
“WeFish is a nonprofit organization here in Westport formed to support the commercial fishing industry,” said board member Adrienne Jones. “We support the fishermen, the Coast Guard supports us, so we want to make sure their families are taken care of in this time of need, while they are missing their paychecks.”
WeFish has been accepting donations of cash, checks and gift cards for several weeks, working with a representative from the local Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association to make sure the donations are distributed quickly to the families of those serving at Coast Guard Station Grays Harbor in Westport.
“We are working to distribute the donations evenly,” said Jones, who also owns and operates the Tides and Anchors Boutique on Westhaven Drive. The Petty Officers Assocation representative knows each family, including who is living in Coast Guard housing, who has spouses and children, who lives off base, and distributes donations appropriately.
Fill Our Xtratuffs event Saturday
WeFish board members were tossing some ideas around for a fundraiser when board member Holly Rydman came up with “Fill Our Xtratuffs,” after Xtratuff boots, a popular choice among commercial and sport fishermen alike. The event is Saturday, Jan. 26, with locations in Westport and Aberdeen.
“If people donate directly to WeFish those donations are distributed immediately through the Petty Officers Association,” said Jones. All donations collected through the nonprofit, including those collected Saturday, stay right in the Westport Coast Guard community.
In Westport, donations will be accepted at Englund Marine, 101 West N. Wilson Ave., 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Shop’n Kart, 108 S. Montesano St., 1-4 p.m.
In Aberdeen, donations can be made from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Grays Harbor Community Hospital Health Fair at the Shoppes at Riverside, 1017 S. Boone St.
Donate any time
You don’t need to attend one of the Saturday locations to donate. Donations can be made any time to WeFish, PO Box 2467, Westport, WA 98595. Checks should be made payable to WeFish, with “Coast Guard” written in the memo line of the check. Gift cards are also accepted.
Donations can also be sent to the regional Chief Petty Officers Association office at Lower Columbia River CPOA, PO Box 34, Warrenton, OR 97146. Donations sent to this address will be distributed throughout the region, not just to families stationed in Westport.
Jones used the example of a local real estate broker donating $1,000 worth of $50 Shop’n Kart gift cards. The local Chief Petty Officers Association representative met with Jones at her shop to collect the gift cards, and immediately returned to Station Grays Harbor, “getting them to the families right away,” said Jones. “He’s keeping very good tabs and dispersing them to local families.”