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Ferguson, Missouri: AFSCME Members Aid Ferguson Community

AFSCME Council 72 Pres. Michelle Mason and Willie Donald, a Local 2730 steward, brought donations to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Ferguson.
AFSCME Council 72 Pres. Michelle Mason and Willie Donald, a Local 2730 steward, brought donations to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Ferguson.

Community members in this St. Louis suburb saw an outpouring of support from labor, faith and other organizations following the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in August. Among those helping were members of Council 72, representing public workers across Missouri and Kansas.

Council 72 members provided much-needed diapers, toilet paper, bottles of water and meals for the community. These goods were in short supply while businesses were shuttered during the protests that followed Brown’s death, said Willie Donald, a steward of Local 2730, who works as a developmental assistant at the Bellefontaine Habilitation Center in St. Louis.

Because the start of the school year was postponed in response to the demonstrations, many families relied on donations to replace free school meals. Council 72 members provided lunches outside of libraries that offered educational programming for Ferguson’s children.

“We want to help the businesses so that they’ll open back up and go back to normal,” Donald said. “Everything’s still boarded up. We’re trying to help meet people’s immediate needs. We want to start building everything up into something better.”

AFSCME members also joined with the PICO National Network and other local organizations to launch a weekly voter registration drive to foster political empowerment and civic engagement in Ferguson. They registered 200 high school seniors.

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