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Here's where furloughed workers can get freebies and help in Tampa Bay

As the government shutdown continues, the Florida Orchestra, Ruth Eckerd Hall, local restaurants and organizations step up to help those without pay.
TAILYR IRVINE | Times Member of the Florida Orchestra rehearse for the Florida Orchestra performance at the Straz Center in November. The orchestra is offering free tickets to furloughed workers to its three Schubert concerts this weekend
Published Jan. 17

Both the Florida Orchestra and Ruth Eckerd Hall are offering free tickets to shows this week for furloughed government employees. It's the latest in a line of local organizations trying to help workers who are going without pay during the longest government shutdown in history.

This weekend the Florida Orchestra is bringing back Joshua Weilerstein to conduct Schubert's Symphony No. 9, often called "The Great," as well as rock star cellist Joshua Roman on Bates' Cello Concerto and Still's Poem for Orchestra. Concerts are at 8 p.m. Friday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.

Ruth Eckerd Hall will offer have free tickets for furloughed government employees for two upcoming shows.

On Thursday, the avant-garde dance company Pilobolus presents Shadowland: The New Adventure. Employing animation, video and live shadow theater, the show blends science fiction, film noir and romantic comedy. And the Jan. 23 performance of Disney's new a capella singing group DCappella, created by Pitch Perfect's Deke Sharon, will cover favorites including a Whole New World and Let It Go in a new way.

Pick up tickets for both the orchestra and Ruth Eckerd shows 90 minutes prior to show time with valid government ID.

Here's how some other organizations stepping up to help out furloughed workers:

• Feeding Tampa Bay and United Way Suncoast are providing a daily pop-up food bank at Tampa International Airport for federal employees with the TSA, the Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Donate to this effort at

• Gigglewaters in Safety Harbor is offering a free beer and a classic movie in its screening room. Show your badge or pay stub from a government agency. Find a movie schedule at

• The Humane Society of Tampa Bay is offering free pet food to furloughed government workers. The free food is available at the Humane Society's shelter at 3607 N Armenia Ave. in Tampa weekdays from noon-7 p.m., and weekends from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Verification is required.

• Cajun restaurant Happy's Bayou Bites in Dunedin is offering free lunch to U.S. Coast Guard members and their families until the shutdown is over. It's open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 431 Skinner Blvd., Dunedin. (727) 240-1102.

• Sky Zone Tampa is offering free jumps to federal government employees currently without pay. They can get 60 minutes of play Tuesdays through Thursdays through Jan. 31, or until the shutdown ends. The indoor trampoline park is also 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 Tuesdays through Thursdays. 10137 E Adamo Drive.

• Trinity Cafe: Government workers can get a healthy, three-course meal at their two locations, 801 N Nebraska Ave. and 2202 E Busch Blvd., both in Tampa. Both are open from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. weekdays and 9-10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Nebraska location; Saturday only at Busch location.

• Sylvia's Clubhouse LLC in Clearwater is offering free play in the indoor playground for families affected by the shutdown. And it announced on its Facebook page that it will continue to do so "until one paycheck after the government gets itself back in working order." The clubhouse is also collecting donations and posted a wish list for Coast Guard donations such as gas and grocery gift cards and baby and pet items. Donate any item from the list (found on its Facebook page) and get 50 percent off admission. 25016 U.S. 19 N, Clearwater. (727) 401-3202

• Craft Street Kitchen in Trinity is offering half off dinner for the families off all active Coast Guard members. 3216 Little Road. (727) 372-9491.

•Credit unions across the country, including the Suncoast Federal Credit Union, have put together a variety of resources to help members stay fiscally afloat while waiting to go back to work. The help ranges from waived fees for skip payments to lines of credit and financial counseling.

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at Follow @SharonKWn.


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