Vince DePrinzio

Vince DePrinzio, adjutant at the American Legion in Wildwood, sifts through goods donated for furloughed Coast Guard employees last week.

The American Legion in Wildwood and the Seaville Fire & Rescue Company are collecting food, diapers and cash to help furloughed Coast Guard employees and enlistees working without pay during the ongoing government shutdown.

But would-be beneficiaries are limited by ethics guidelines as to how much they can accept.

“We appreciate the mindset, certainly; we’re just governed by policies,” said John Edwards, a spokesman for Coast Guard Training Center Cape May. “That’s just the way it works, whether there’s a shutdown or not.”

Edwards said members are bound by policies in the Code of Federal Regulations that say they can accept no more than $20, or the equivalent in goods, on any occasion and $50, or the equivalent in goods, from any one organization in a year.

The shutdown is the third longest of its kind since 1980, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Edwards said the Coast Guard has about 1,000 employees in Cape May, 24 of whom are furloughed. The rest, enlistees and civilian employees, are working their normal hours and will be paid when a budget is passed.

And the longer the budget impasse lasts, the longer federal workers will have to stretch their budgets.

At the American Legion in Wildwood on Wednesday, adjutant Vince DePrinzio said they have collected more than $200 in cash and more than $100 in gift cards for Coast Guard employees. He sifted through bags of canned goods, cereal, spaghetti and, outnumbering everything else, baby formula and diapers.

“(People) don’t realize: These guys that live off base, their family’s there,” said DePrinzio, a Vietnam veteran. “The thing is, though, they’re still showing up for work. They’ve got a job to do.”

Attempts to reach the Seaville Fire & Rescue Company went unanswered Wednesday.

Any member looking to accept goods from the drive will have to run it by the facility’s legal office first, where their request will be reviewed, Edwards said.

“The lawyer at the training center would act as the assisting agency ethics official and would be the one to determine whether or not a request for gift acceptance falls within the rules of the (Code of Federal Regulations) or not,” Edwards said in an email.

In the meantime, donations are still coming in. There is no set date for the drop-off at the moment, but DePrinzio says he wants to get the collected goods and cash to the furloughed workers within a week. Edwards says any drop-off or disbursement of goods would need to be at an off-site location.

Other military branches, part of the Department of Defense, are fully funded through the shutdown. The Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

“That’s unreal, because they are a veterans group,” DePrinzio said. “They shouldn’t be, you know, left out. They really shouldn’t.”

Contact: 609-272-7260 cshaw@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressColtShaw

Staff Writer

I cover breaking news on the digital desk. I graduated from Temple University in Dec. 2017 and joined the Press in the fall of 2018. Previously, I freelanced, covering Pennsylvania state politics and criminal justice reform.

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