ShareNet is opening its doors this Friday, November 16, to those needing assistance in placing Thanksgiving dinner on the table.
“Average for the past 10 years has been about 900 individuals,” said Mark Ince, executive director.
Distributing the meals for 900 people, Ince said, is no small amount effort. Preparation for the one-day distribution event began back in October when volunteers began ordering food.
ShareNet also distributes seasonal items around Christmas, and holiday foodstuffs are distributed through the food bank’s regular distribution boxes.
Ince also noted the fact that if it were not for ShareNet’s Neighbor Aid program, the food bank would be left trying to navigate dire straits.
“It’s our one annual fundraiser that exists on this kind of scale,” Ince said of the yearly mailer sent out to area residents. “This is the one time of the year that we reach out to the community and say, ‘Please help.’ It’s what allows us to continue to operate year-to-year.”
Of all the funds generated from Neighbor Aid, Ince said:
Forty percent goes toward ShareNet’s food purchasing efforts. Twenty percent goes toward eviction prevention and utility shutoff assistance programs. Twenty percent is used for operational costs like rent, insurance, fuel, vehicle maintenance, packaging and supplies, and 20 percent goes toward the Food2Go program, which focuses on assisting students from food-insecure families by providing additional meals during the school year and summer break.
ShareNet’s area of coverage — Kingston, Hansville, Indianola, Port Gamble, Eglon and Little Boston — happens to contain David Wolfle Elementary and Kingston Middle School where 46.4 percent and 38.4 percent of students respectively receive free or reduced lunches. Wolfle contains a higher percentage of students on free or reduced lunch than any other school in the district.
Those most frequently being served by ShareNet’s programs, Ince said, were seniors, individuals with disabilities, children, and people working part-time or low-wage jobs.
As for the stigma associated with accepting items from a food bank, Ince said ShareNet’s volunteers take steps to ensure that the local resource remains an upbeat and welcoming source of assistance.
“It’s an atmosphere that’s really positive,” Ince said. “It’s a cheerful place, the volunteers are all trained in that this is to be a welcoming cheerful place. We’re often addressing situations and families in crisis, but we’re addressing that in a really positive way. We’re glad you’re here. We’re glad to be helping you. What do you need?”