Assistance & Specials for Furloughed Federal Employees - Brandon/Tampa

Including Info on How You Can Help Local Families Affected by the Government Shutdown

January 25, 2019

This government shutdown is record-setting. We know there are so many local families in Brandon and all over the Tampa Bay area whose families are experiencing the effects of this shutdown firsthand.

As our friends, families, coworkers, and neighbors are furloughed or working without pay, we want to help. We have compiled a list of community businesses and agencies that are offering help during this difficult time. We have also added a few links for those who would like to help or make a donation.


Seeds of Hope 
Seeds of Hope is helping government workers with food needs during this shutdown. Weekly Food Distribution: Every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. we hand out boxes of food to members of the community. Seeds of Hope, Inc. food bank is located at 710 E. Bloomingdale Ave., Brandon, FL. (CLICK HERE to donate

ECHO of Brandon (Emergency Care Help Organization)
Our pantry was created for times like this. Families who would usually give to ECHO find themselves in need themselves. We are here to help. Federal employees bring ID or recent paystub. Food & small household items available at both Brandon & Riverview Locations. CLICK HERE for tips to stretch your food budget.

Hillsborough County Schools (FREE or Reduced Lunch)
We know some families may be dealing with the effects of the partial government shutdown. If your income or household size has changed, your child may be eligible for free school meal benefits. You can apply for school meal benefits at any time during the school year, applying online for healthy, nutritious school meals is quick, confidential and easy. to apply for your child's free school meal benefits, or to learn more about the process CLICK HERE


Romano's Macaroni Grill
For every day the government shutdown is in effect, Macaroni Grill is offering all furloughed federal government employees a free Mom's Ricotta Meatballs + Spaghetti. All you have to do is show your federal ID. (Valid through 1/31/19 or until the Government shutdown ends, whichever happens first, with valid federal ID. Valid 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Not valid at Puerto Rico, airport or international locations.)

The Revolution Ice Cream Co.
We can empathize with those effected by the shut down. From now until things are back up and running, bring in your federal work ID and you and your family's ice cream is on us! (1 Single scoop each).


Tampa Electric and TECO Peoples Gas
Tampa Electric and TECO Peoples Gas are supporting federal employees who are working without pay or furloughed as a result of the government shutdown. We are offering We are offering:

  • Payment extensions and waived late fees for at least 30 days when customers call our Customer Experience center at 1-888-223-0800 and are verified through the presentation of valid credentials (government employee photo identification, a badge or other documentation) via email
  • Assistance with bill payments through our Share program. Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas will match all donations, up to a combined $500,000.
  • A referral list through our partner network for other support needs such as food, housing assistance, etc.
  • Onsite assistance at fairs that began Monday at Tampa International Airport for more than 700 Federal Aviation Administration, Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Customs & Border Protection employees.
  • Help Neighbors in need HERE


ELC of Hillsborough
We have limited funding available on a first come, first serve basis to help Hillsborough County federal workers pay for child care if they are still reporting to work, without pay, due to the #governmentshutdown. The application, labeled "2019 Working Federal Employee Temporary Eligibility Packet" is available here: Are you a federal worker who has had to take up a part time job while your agency is shut down? You may qualify for our School Readiness program to assist you in child care. Call us at 813-515-2340 for more information.


Dancing for Donations
Due to the government shut down, we are waiving February tuition for Furloughed workers. Please show proof of furlough via recent paystub. This includes current and new students.


Purina Shelter Champions - (Closest location is Manatee County Animal Services)
We feel for our fellow pet owners who have experienced financial hardship as a result of the government shutdown. To help ensure pets remain fed, healthy and in their homes during this time, Purina is offering pet food and litter donation to our 47 Purina Shelter Champion partners across the country, our national pet food distribution partner Rescue Bank and to the Humane Rescue Alliance’s Pet Pantry program in Washington, D.C. for distribution to federal employees.


Glazer Children's Museum 
Glazer Children's Museum is temporarily offering free admission to federal workers impacted by the government shutdown (furloughed or working without pay). Please bring photo ID & paystub for free admission for you & up to 4 guests. We hope this helps continue the learning & fun during this time. 

ZooTampa at Lowry Park
ZooTampa is grateful for federal employees and their service to the public. We are proud to offer two (2) free admission tickets to federal employees during the government shutdown. Beginning Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, federal employees impacted by the government shutdown can present a valid federal employment ID or badge for two (2) free admission tickets. The offer lasts until the government shutdown ends.

The Florida Aquarium
From now until the government reopens, workers affected by the shutdown can receive one free admission with their federally issued ID.

Sky Zone
Offer is valid at participating Sky Zone locations only and is subject to change. Valid government identification required. Federal government employees who are furloughed or currently without pay and up to three (3) immediate family members are each eligible for one (1) free 60-minute jump per day at participating Sky Zone locations every Tuesday through Thursday until January 31, 2019. Sky Zone socks are required but remember you can bring back SkySocks from previous visits to use again. Taxes are not included. No rain checks. Sky Zone Tampa will also be hosting a food drive with items to be donated to the Feeding Tampa Bay Food Bank. Guests who donate will receive $2 off their jump time Tuesday through Thursday.


Heroes Only Barber Shop
Free haircut for furloughed government employees with ID. Heroes Only Barber Shop is located at 3634 Lithia Pinecrest Road in Valrico.

Air Conditioning Services

BAM Air Conditioning Services
BAM Air Conditioning Services is offering 30% off any service or repair for employees affected by shutdown!

Cell Phone Companies

AT&T - Customers affected by the shutdown are eligible for flexible payment options to keep service including cellphones, television and internet running. Make payment arrangements online at

Sprint - "Our Care reps will coordinate with qualified customers and our financial team to find a payment option that works and keep your service uninterrupted during the government shutdown," Sprint said in a statement. Impacted customers should call 888-211-4727 or do an online chat at

T-Mobile - Short-term account assistance can be tailored to meet the needs of customers who are federal workers, T-Mobile said, noting options include payment deferral and "flexible payment options" that allow customers to spread their service payments over time." The company is also offering support to government account customers. Customers can call T-Mobile Customer Care to discuss options at 611 from a T-Mobile device or 877-746-0909 from any phone.

Verizon - The company announced flexible payment options and a "Promise to Pay" program that can be set up in the My Verizon app or website. Further assistance is available by calling 866-266-1445.

Banking Information

Bank of America - The bank's Client Assistance Program is offering personalized financial assistance and can be reached at 844-219-0690.

Chase - The bank announced its efforts to help its customers who are U.S. government employees on Dec. 22 and is encouraging customers to call a special care line at 888-356-0023 to discuss available hardship programs. The help also is available for customers who do business with a federal agency that is also affected, Chase said in a statement.

Congressional Federal Credit Union - Furloughed employees and those working without pay can apply for the “Relief Line of Credit” with an interest-free rate over 60 days.

Discover - Impacted federal workers who are Discover cardmembers or have a loan with Discover Bank may be eligible for assistance such as skipping a payment and having late fees and interest charges reversed if they miss a payment because of the shutdown. To request assistance, call 800-347-2683.

FedChoice - The Federal Credit Union has several options listed in its Furlough Center at

Navy Federal Credit Union - Impacted union members who have direct deposit of their government pay may be eligible for interest-free loans. Government contractors may be eligible if their direct deposit is received directly from the federal government and will be impacted by a government shutdown.

U.S. Bank - The bank created a new, low-rate quick loan for federal employees affected by the shutdown. It is available to customers with any U.S. Bank product, including mortgage, auto loans or U.S. Bank credit cards, the company announced. The designated federal government shutdown line is 877-760-6046.

U.S. Employees Credit Union -  Impacted union members who have direct deposit of their government pay may be eligible for interest-free loans. According to its website, the Government Shutdown Loan is to be “repaid in 60 days or when the government processes back pay, whichever is sooner.”

Wells Fargo - The bank says it "will work with individuals and business banking customers whose income is disrupted as a result of the shutdown." Customers should call 1-800-TO-WELLS, or the number on their credit card, debit card or statement for assistance, or visit any Wells Fargo branch. Mortgage, loan, and credit customers may qualify for forbearance or other payment assistance programs based on their individual circumstances, the company posted on its website.

Additional Assistance

Unemployment Benefits - According to a U.S. Office of Personnel Management fact sheet, federal employees may be eligible for "Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees," which is administered by state unemployment insurance agencies. The fact sheet notes "the law of the state in which an individual’s official duty station in Federal civilian service is located will be the state law under which an individual’s eligibility for benefits is determined."

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