Ogden's SHARE, Inc. closing after 42 years of emergency food delivery

Thursday , November 09, 2017 - 12:00 AM

JANAE FRANCIS, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Volunteers dedicated to wearing themselves out in service say they’ve done just that.

Non-profit organization SHARE Inc. is closing for good after 42 years of service in Weber County. Volunteers were mostly elderly and retired people who delivered emergency food supplies to the hungry.

With only one paid part-time employee and no young blood to replace them, volunteers who started in 1975 decided they’ve done all they can do.

All involved said rewards for helping outweighed the work — an estimated 32,195 home deliveries were made to about 107,172 people, members of the organization said. The last deliveries were set for Thursday, Nov. 9.

“(The board of directors) needed to raise funds and keep the refrigerators and freezers in operating condition, organize drivers and organize people to come out and put things in bags,” Phil Sottosanti of Ogden, a member of the board, said. “It’s a big operation but people were just running out of gas.”

While there remains a need for emergency food deliveries, organizers say a good economy is keeping demand minimal. 

“We were doing 15 deliveries a week five years ago,” Tim Donahoe of Washington Terrace and board president said. “Now, we’re doing maybe one a day.”

A delivery to a particular man sticks out in Donahoe’s mind.

“Before I could get to the door, he grabbed the hot dogs and started tearing into them like there was no tomorrow,” Donahoe said. “I said ‘They are still frozen.’ He said ‘I haven’t eaten in two days.’” 

Volunteer Jan Luger of South Ogden said she also won’t soon forget heartbreaking realities she’s seen during deliveries but she’s confident existing programs will be able to help where needed.

She remembers walking into a yard with a bag full of food and having a 4-year-old girl walk up to her.

“She asked me, ‘Is that food?’” Luger said. “She came and looked at me with her big eyes and said ‘Are you my grandma?’ That’s the type of thing that kept us going.”

Sottosanti said people sometimes heard of his efforts to deliver food each week and would tell him he was generous. He said that’s not the case.

“I found it the most rewarding job I ever had,” Sottosanti said. “I would be seeing people who didn’t have (anything) suddenly have something to eat. There were a few times when the mother of a family would start crying.” 

After the organization stops operations, volunteers will turn their food storage over to Catholic Community Services of Northern Utah and other non-profits, Donahoe said.

They’re still looking for a non-profit to give their metal shelving to.

A news release from the agency said the board of trustees voted Oct. 26 to dissolve SHARE, Inc. and suggested another place to provide a similar service might be the Bridging the Gap program through Catholic Community Services of Northern Utah in coordination with the Utah Food Bank. The program takes food directly to children and families via drop-off delivery programs.

SHARE, Inc. started out as a small operation run out of a garage, according to the news release. Food came from friends and neighbors. 

In recent years, SHARE, Inc. operated out of an office at Elim Lutheran Church. Food reserves were kept in a storage unit where volunteers could fill requests quickly and deliver them.

Among the many volunteers were school children and church members that annually held food drives to help the effort.

• RELATED: Celebrate the Nativity at SHARE, Inc.'s annual lighting ceremony Nov. 29

The non-profit also relied on a fundraiser started by the Sisters of St. Benedict in which local residents dedicated lights in their Christmas Grove in honor of living and deceased people as a Christmas gift to them.

The sisters passed on their Christmas Grove Fundraiser event to SHARE, Inc. before leaving Ogden in 2013.

SHARE, Inc. now will pass this event on to the Daughters of Charity who will continue to host the Christmas Grove event each year in their garden at their Give Me A Chance facility at 2913 Grant Avenue in Ogden.

“We feel good that they are taking on the Christmas Grove,” said Carolyn Somer of Ogden, who is the secretary to the board of directors. ”There will be a permanent home for the event.”

You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at jfrancis@standard.net or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or like her on Facebook at facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis.

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