St. Pete man raises money for U.S. Coast Guard members working during shutdown

Image 1 of 3

Thousands of workers in the Tampa Bay area, most of whom live paycheck to paycheck, are not getting paid as the partial government shutdown enters its 26th day.

Senator Rick Scott announced Wednesday that he would co-sponsor a bill to pay members of the U.S. Coast Guard, who are currently working without pay during the government shutdown. The Coast Guard is the only branch of the military affected by the shutdown because they are funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Paul Krakowski is friends with those who work at the Coast Guard station in St. Petersburg, and says he knows first-hand the heroic work they do.

“They risk their lives every day. For all we know, they could be out as we speak on a search and rescue, not even getting paid,” he said.

Krakowski thinks it’s unacceptable the officers are working without pay, but rather than ranting on social media over the politics of a government shutdown, he decided to take action.

“My initial thought was to write something up,” he said.

Krakowski spread the word by passing out flyers in his neighborhood. More than one hundred people stepped up to raise $2,060 for Coast Guard members and their families.

“They brought me in and the commanding officer was actually waiting there," he said. "To say that he was appreciative is really not even the word. I’m getting emotional because I could see the emotion in his eyes.”

To express his gratitude, the commander gave Krakowski a rare challenge coin -- a medal usually reserved for members who go above and beyond the call of duty. It's rarely given to a civilian.

To coordinate a donation, you can call the Coast Guard station at 727-535-1437.