SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - As the partial government shutdown continues, more local businesses and organizations are stepping up to help.

From collecting household items and non-perishable food to handing out fresh meals, communities across western Mass. are coming together to support furloughed government workers.

As loaves of fresh bread hit the shelves at Great Harvest Bread Company in Longmeadow, not all of them are for sale.

"We know a lot of individuals and families are hurting, and," Great Harvest Bread Company owner Robert White tells us. "We wanted to do what we could to help out in our own way."

For the past two weeks, the shutdown shelf has been packed with traditional and specialty breads.

"Every time the shelf empties out," continued White. "We put more bread on it just so we can do what we can."

Robert White tells Western Mass News the act of giving back has extended to their customers.

"The nice thing about this is," stated White. "That it's not just us. We have a lot of customers who come in, they purchase a lot of bread, and we put it on the bread shelf. We never anticipated that. I have another regular customer who has extended a line of credit to someone she knows who's out of work. It's quite significant, and every week that person is able to come in and get that amount of sandwiches, soup, salad, and bread. Whatever they need."

Over at Rachel's Table in Springfield, their office lobby has been full of donations.

"People have opened up their hearts," Assistant Director for Rachel's Table Sarah Maniaci tells us. "We've got folks coming in with loads of food. We're looking for protein, canned goods, like tuna and salmon, and beans. They like to have baby formula. We even have people bringing in dog food and cat food."

This morning, they took boxes and bags full of food to the Project New Hope Food Pantry in Chicopee where they are helping government workers.

"We filled up one of our volunteers' trucks," Maniaci stated. "Huge truck, and then someone else had to come in and help her. Then, as soon as they left, literally, we had a couple people with even more food and we anticipate more food coming in all day."

Great Harvest Bread Company says they will continue to help impacted families, even after the shutdown ends, because they know families will still be struggling, weeks following.

Copyright 2019 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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