Juli Ghazi has been in and out of airports several times over the last few weeks. Each time, the Pure Pizza owner said she has been impressed with the resiliency of TSA agents and air traffic controllers who continue to show up to work despite the government being shut down, not paying workers.
This past Friday, as she prepared to fly out of JFK Airport back to Charlotte Douglas International, she knew she wanted to do something to help.
“Your paycheck and well being should not be a political debate,” Pure Pizza’s Instagram post stated in bold san serif. “Please bring your federal ID and yourself and family to either location, and we will gladly take care of you for free.”
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Over the past three days, Ghazi said the restaurant has served more than four dozen federal employees and their families. “There’s been such a tremendous response with the community who want to help and are giving donations so we can create a big order to deliver to TSA on Thursday,” she said. “To see people want to get involved is really inspiring as well. If we keep getting donations, we will keep sending deliveries.”
As the government enters day 26 of the shutdown, businesses around the country are stepping up to help those not receiving paychecks during the furlough. In addition to Pure Pizza, other Charlotte-area businesses are no exception, with offers for free food, free haircuts and free activities for those affected.
Here’s a rundown of some of the offers:
On January 20 and every Sunday after that during the shutdown, federal employees and their immediate families are invited to dine in for free at the Pineville restaurant. The event is being co-hosted by M&M Hardwood Flooring, who will be giving away care packages, gift cards and raffle prizes for government employees and their families.
“We deeply care and want to help in every way we can,” manager Melissa Vang said.
Gleaning inspiration from Pure Pizza, Queen City Grounds in Fourth Ward is offering a free batch brewed coffee to all furloughed employees with a federal I.D.
Every day between now and when the shutdown ends, Your Mom’s Donuts is offering a free donut for anyone who stops by with a federal employee I.D. “We just think supporting the community is enormously important,” owner Courtney Buckley said. “Paychecks should never be used as pawns in a game. Donuts tend to cheer people up in general, and while we know we can’t totally alleviate the burden of the current situation, we’re hopeful we can spread a little love.”
Be Yoga is offering free early bird classes ($9 classes offered throughout the day) to affected government workers and also unemployed members of the community. These classes will be offered throughout January and potentially throughout the length of the shutdown at both of their studios, one in Dilworth and one on Carmel Road. Bring a pay stub or something similar to show employment status.
“Yoga is word of action, and part of this is to be of service to the community,” studio director Grace Millsap said. “Be Yoga felt it was important to offer these free classes to give people an opportunity for some peace in an otherwise chaotic and uncertain time.”
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is offering free admission to furloughed employees — and a plus one — during the government shutdown. “We’d like to help reduce stress during this difficult time,” the Belmont nonprofit stated on its Facebook page.
I AM YOGA is offering free yoga classes to furloughed workers at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church on Beatties Ford Road during the government shutdown. Classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays with teachers Keisha Battles and Candace Jennings.
“On a regular basis, we offer free classes to anyone with a financial need,” Battles said. “Wellness should be accessible to all. We hope to support people by sharing the tools of breathing, stretching, and being in a supportive community.”
Salon M2 on Rea Road is offering free haircuts to furloughed federal employees. Michele Matkovich, founder and owner of Salon M2, said she wanted to be able to help people financially and emotionally.
“Sometimes changes are brought among us unexpectedly and unpleasantly,” Matkovich said. “The power of a hairdresser is undeniable and is where my passion for our industry thrives, having the ability to touch the heads and hearts of others through beauty.”
The Color Bar is offering free haircuts to furloughed workers. “A new haircut or hair color lifts your spirits, lifts your confidence and helps you remember that everyday is a new day,” owner Lisa Nalbach said. “Nothing is permanent, and change, although it may seem scary, can be a spectacular change for someone going through something traumatizing.”