TSA workers at Oakland airport get a helping hand during shutdown

'Reaching out with helping hands' is becoming a warm life experience for unpaid Federal workers at Oakland Airport. It's an effort to relieve worry by providing food for folks who find themselves needy through no fault of their own.

With thousands of TSA workers out on furlough or working without pay, a food bank, Oakland Airport, their employees and just plain folks are all chipping in to help out. Friday morning, the Alameda County Community Food Bank, sent its third truckload delivery this week to help unpaid federal airport workers. It's an early hit on the food bank's annual budget.

"We are and emergency response organization and we know there are thousands of workers in Alameda County alone, let alone the entire nation, that right now aren't getting paid." said Alameda County Community Food Bank's Mike Altfest.

David Von Damm, TSA's Oakland Airport Director, just like all of his staff of 450, is working without pay and with no significant uptick in sick calls.

"I could not be more pleased or impressed with the Oakland and Alameda community, the Port of Oakland. The outreach has been phenomenal. Our airline partners here have all stepped up in their own way; free lunches, recognition signage even passengers are coming through," said Vonm Damm.

All this, he said, has kept the staff, sharp, focused and effective, "I'll tell you what: it all makes a difference."

Keonnis Taylor, spokeswoman for Oakland International said the airport has placed collection bins in public areas for anyone wishing to help out.

"The airport really wanted to foster an environment here at the airport for the federal workers who come Oakland International every day, despite this government shutdown." said Taylor. "We have TSA, there's the FAA, there is U.S. Customs and Border Protection and even USDA and so there's a great deal of interest here in keeping those folks supported and morale high."

Next week, Southwest and the other airlines serving Oakland will host a thank you barbecue for the workers.