As the United States enters another week of the partial government shutdown, many need a way to feel hopeful about what's in the future. Luckily, some brave souls have stepped up in the meantime to provide a bit of hope in an otherwise dark situation.
John Arnold and his wife Laura, who own the non-profit organization Laura and John Arnold Foundation, have donated $10 million to federal program Head Start, which provides everything from education to nutrition for low-income children and their families.
"The Laura and John Arnold Foundation strives to produce substantial, widespread and lasting changes to society that will maximize opportunity and minimize injustice," the website for the project reads.
The Arnolds' act of philanthropy comes at a good time. Close to 7,000 children will be able to return to Head Start classrooms, thanks to the generous donation. Funds for Head Start's fiscal year 2014 have not been appropriated yet due to the stalemate in Washington, which means that some programs do not have access to the federal funds they rely on to operate.
Head Start stated on its website that it plans to repay the loan if the government provides funding sufficient to fund its operations for a 52-week period. Thanks to the Arnolds' generosity, Head Start will not pay interest on the loan.
The Arnolds weren't the only ones moved to help in this time of need. Grocery chain Food Lion saw a way it could make a difference too. When the government shut down, it stopped funding the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (also known as WIC). Thanks to this program, low-income mothers and their kids have access to healthy food, infant formula and other needs. But with the WIC out of service, that means a lot of moms -- and their kids -- are going hungry.
Food Lion responded to their plight by donating $500,000 to seven regional food banks across North Carolina, where the grocery chain originated. These food banks will purchase food with those funds that could mean that hundreds of families will be able to eat again.
Thankfully, as of October 10, the WIC announced that North Carolina has enough federal money to continue to program.
Another problem that shocked the nation affected the military and their families: When a service member is killed in action, the family usually receives $100,000 as a part of a "death benefits" package. But due to the shutdown, that money did not come, leaving families grieving and without much-needed funds to survive.
The Fisher House Foundation, an organization that lends help to military families, knew it had to act. The group donated $25,000 to 29 families that have lost a service member since the shutdown began on October 1.
In a statement on its website, Fisher House CEO Ken Fisher said, "The response from the public during this crisis has been incredible. We wish to pass along the generosity of a grateful nation, to honor their loved ones service and sacrifice. We thank our heroes and their families for showing us the true face of commitment to our country.”
President Obama signed a bill on October 10, restoring federal funding of death benefits.
For now, there's a small reprieve, thanks to the kindness and generosity of those who choose to help.