For federal employees affected by the partial government shutdown, the week’s holidays have been anything but merry. Wednesday marks the first full business day after some 800,000 federal employees were furloughed— forced on leave without pay — at the stroke of midnight on Friday, or made to work without a clear sense of when (or in some instances, if) they will be paid. Many of these workers and their relatives are sharing their stories using #ShutdownStories on Twitter. Their experiences are, in turns, shocking, heartbreaking, and, in some cases, hopeful.

The hashtag contains many stories of government employees having to return holiday gifts in order to ensure that they have enough money to pay rent in January. Some tweets come from part-time employees working in the hopes of getting back pay later; one tweet, from a newly-hired government contractor, expresses anxiety over the status of a yet-unprocessed job contract.

“Broke my lease to accept new fed job for which I have to attend 7 months of training in another state,” wrote Twitter user Daniel on Christmas day. “Training canceled with shutdown. Homeless. Can’t afford short(?)-term housing/have to work full-time for no pay/returning Xmas presents.”

“My husband is active duty Coast Guard,” user Katy wrote on Christmas Eve. “Everyone thinks the military is getting paid during the shutdown, but the Coast Guard is facing no pay on the 1st due to being DHS [Department of Homeland Security] and not DoD [Department of Justice]. We live in NYC, pay over $2K/month in rent, have a toddler and one on the way.”

But through so many heartbreaking stories, there have also been heartwarming ones. When Taylor Futch, the wife of a park ranger in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, tweeted that her family wouldn’t be able to pay their mortgage in January, Los Angeles SiriusXM radio host Ryan Leaf replied to the mother of two with an offer of help.

“You don’t know me,” Leaf tweeted on Christmas Eve. “But my grandfather was a game warden in Montana and we spent our vacations going to our 2 national parks. Anna, and my son McGyver & I would love to help with your mortgage if you will allow.” The Futch family has declined to speak with Brit + Co about the development, and we are awaiting response from Leaf.

The partial government shutdown is the latest development in the ongoing battle between President Trump and Congress over the president’s $5 billion funding demand for a wall at the southern US border. The House and Senate reconvene on Thursday, but there is no indication that budget negotiations will be on the table.

(Photo by Mark Wilson / Getty Images)