(CNN)Travis Collins looked out on the long line of people snaking around his church parking lot. He recognized very few of the faces standing in the morning air. But he could feel the desperation.
An Alabama church handed out $16,500 to hundreds of furloughed federal workers
"For the first time, I felt in my gut the impact of the partial shutdown," Collins told CNN.
Collins is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama -- home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the US Army's Redstone Arsenal. It is also home to more than 40,000 federal workers and contractors.
"We have more NASA workers than you can shake a stick at," Collins told CNN.
The church opened its doors Thursday to help local workers struggling with the longest federal government shutdown in US history.