The Sharing Center
About The Sharing Center
The Sharing Center is a consortium of eleven local, multi-denominational churches that joined together 30 years ago with the common, simple goal of food assistance for the needy in our community. The food for our pantry comes from a variety of sources. Some is donated from churches and organizations via food drives, a small amount is donated by individuals, and some fresh produce has been donated this year through local youth gardens. The majority of our food is purchased with funding sourced by our associated churches, individuals, and grants. We are associated with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina and much of our food is purchased through them. At their rates, we make our dollars reach to the greatest end.
Recently the Sharing Center met one of our long-term goals: to provide food, once again, on a monthly basis. Prior to April 2012 we were only able to offer a small amount (four day supply) of food every-other-month. However, the need for food in our community is so great clients were coming to our door more and more frequently desperate for food. With this recognition, the Board of Directors unanimously voted to step out on faith and undergo significant changes. The physical layout of our facility has changed. Thanks to hundreds of volunteer hours, donated materials, and lots of hard work we now have a food storage pantry and food selection area. Clients now visit the center once per month and are offered food (canned, frozen meat, and fresh produce when available) all at no cost. Upon review of our number of clients served, one will notice a marked increase beginning in April 2012.
Recent statistics state that Ashe County has the highest unemployment rate in the high country. The 75+ volunteers at the Sharing Center are witness to this on a daily basis.
In an effort to improve the personal and dental health of our clients, the Ashe County Sharing Center partnered together with the West Jefferson United Methodist Church to address this issue. Over 75 multi-generational volunteers including local Boy Scouts joined together at the West Jefferson United Methodist Church and assembled 3,000 packets. Each packet included a wash cloth (many hand-made by ladies of the church), soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, and other personal care items. Packets are being distributed twice in 2013. Each family member receives a packet and each family additionally receives a large laundry detergent. These are items that cannot be purchased by families with “food stamp” funds – therefore many households just did without. Dental Education was also provided by Dr. Joel Yates (a member of West Jefferson UMC. This program has been a huge success! We hope to continue to offer these kits as funds allow.
Get Involved Today
Honor friends, family, and associates with a gift that gives back! Donation honor cards are available (minimum donation of $10) to support the Ashe County Sharing Center. The Sharing Center has provided food assistance for 18,000 individuals in 2013. Donations are tax deductible.
Here's how it works:
Purchase cards to share and personalize as you wish
Make a list of names and addresses, provide payment to the Ashe County Sharing Center ($10 minimum per card), and The Sharing Center will address and mail cards for you!
Seasonal Children's Feeding Program
Inspired by volunteer work with the 2014 Hunger in America Surveys, the Ashe County Sharing Center incorporated an informal survey of our clients. Shockingly, 35% of participants in our program is children. With this fact in mind, the Sharing Center quickly sprang in to action. Leading the charge Michael Sexton, Program Facilitator at the Sharing Center, orchestrated this new program. Starting off as a level 4 and fully self-funded project under the Sharing Center umbrella, this program was able to serve 750 children during the summer months! Families were able to receive additional eggs and other child-friendly, healthy foods in addition to their regular proportions. In anticipation of extensive breaks from school due to winter weather, the Sharing Center holds the option of reinstating this program.
The food pantry at the Ashe County Sharing Center is our main program; other programs operate under its umbrella. The Ashe County Sharing Center is a major food provider for our needy neighbors. Over the past several years, this mission has undergone phenomenal growth and stepped up to address the hunger needs in our area. Clients may visit our pantry once each month. Every effort is made to provide a variety of healthy choices. Fresh fruits and vegetables (when available), eggs, frozen meats, breakfast items, canned vegetables, peanut butter, evaporated milk, rice, and dry beans are items commonly distributed. Amounts are often proportional to family size. Stocking the pantry is a constant challenge. For example, it takes 100 cases of canned vegetables each month to meet the needs of our clientele. The folks visiting the Sharing Center for help are our friends, our neighbors, our peers, and the reason we exist.