The Ashe County Sharing Center is a recipient of a $1,000 grant from the Catholic Church, which will go to provide more food for families with children.
“We applied for the grant on the basis of giving extra food to families with children during school vacations and months where there are numerous weather cancellations,” said Diane LaBonte, who filed for the grant on behalf of the Sharing Center. “Almost half of our clients are families are families with children. When school is not in session, the kids are not getting free or reduced lunch.”
LaBonte said the Sharing Center felt the need to make up the difference by giving families a little more food during those times. The funding for the grant came from the Diocese of Charlotte’s annual rice bowl campaign for human development.
“What (the church) does is at Lent each year, they have people skip a meal and put the money in a rice bowl,” LaBonte said. “The money is then distributed nationally for hunger programs and part of it comes back to the communities.”
Ashe County Sharing Center Program Coordinator Michael Sexton said money is the main way the Sharing Center can provide the goods and services for those in need. The Sharing Center is able to get a dozen eggs for 27 cents, meat for 27 cents a pound and other items shipped from Winston-Salem for as cheap as 8 cents a pound.
“We prefer monetary donations because we can do so much more efficiently,” he said.
Sexton said the Catholic Church has been very helpful in its donation periods.
“We don’t have the capability of having our own food pantry,” said Father James Stuhrenberg of the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Jefferson. “ It makes more sense to come together with other churches to operate all together.”
The Sharing Center has other events going on throughout the month of December. They are providing 1,500 hygiene items for those who qualify and a children’s food campaign where families with children can have both eggs and cereal instead of having to choose.
Also, there is a senior grant provided to the Sharing Center this month.
“We are able to make available to anyone 60 or older, two special items which are very expensive: sugar and self-rising flour,” Sexton said.
The Sharing Center continues to look for land for a donated new building. Sexton said the building can be up to 3,000 square feet or cost up to $150,000.
“We are still looking for that generous donation of a piece of land in West Jefferson or Jefferson,” Sexton said. “We need it by Dec. 31.”