LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The security checkpoint at Clinton National Airport has remained open throughout the government shutdown – staffed by TSA agents who are not receiving pay. During the wait for their next check, the airport and community partners are working to make sure the federal employees don’t go without basic necessities.
“There is a person behind that badge,” Shane Carter, Director of Public Affairs for Clinton National Airport, said. “As we've moved through this shutdown, it's become very clear that there are effects and certainly impacts when people are not paid over a long period of time."
For the last two weeks, Clinton National has provided daily breakfast and lunch to the 100 TSA employees who work at the airport. Southwest and Delta Airlines employees are also part of the effort.
Moving forward, restaurants across the city of Little Rock will be on-board too.
“I have just been blown away with the response,” said Capi Peck, co-owner of Trio’s Restaurant and City Director for Ward 4.
After a conversation with Carter on Thursday, Peck issued a call for help to other restaurateurs on Facebook. Within 24 hours, she said several dozens had committed to providing meals for TSA employees.
“In these troubled times that we live in now, something like this restores my faith in humanity,” Peck said.
Carter said the airport has heard from community members who would like to assist TSA agents financially. Though agents are prohibited from accepting gifts directly at the checkpoint, there are several ways people can help during the shutdown.
Beginning on Saturday, the airport will begin accepting gift card donations at the information desk located on the second floor, outside the security checkpoint. TSA regulations require that the gift cards are issued and redeemable only by a particular retailer (i.e. a grocery store or big box store). Airport staff will collect the cards until further notice. They will then be given to TSA for distribution to employees in-need, according to Carter.
The airport, in conjunction with the City of Little Rock and other community partners, is also planning to collect items at locations across the city for all federal workers impacted by the shutdown. The “Little Rock Cares” initiative is planned for Tuesday and Wednesday. A list of drop-off locations and items needed will be released on the airport’s website in the coming days.
Amid the government shutdown, 32 FAA employees at Clinton National Airport are also working without pay. The airport is also prepared to help those employees as needs arise.