Friday , November 10, 2017 - 4:30 AM
SHARE Inc. volunteer Ed Vanzweden, right, hands a bag of donated food to Corrina Lucero at her mother's Ogden home Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. SHARE began delivering donated food to people in need in 1975. The organization is shutting down after making its final deliveries Nov. 9.
After volunteers for SHARE Inc. made their last food delivery Thursday, there’s only one thing left to say — thanks.
It hardly seems adequate. But thanks.
For 42 years, SHARE fed the hungry in Weber County. The organization started in a garage, supplied by friends and neighbors. When people needed help, SHARE volunteers showed up with groceries.
A lot of groceries.
Volunteers estimate that between 1975 and Nov. 9, 2017, they made more than 32,000 food deliveries to more than 107,000 people. At its height, SHARE provided groceries to 200 families a month.
Volunteers, mostly elderly and retired, did it for a simple reason — people needed to eat.
“I found it the most rewarding job I ever had,” said Phil Sottosanti a SHARE board member. “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.”
People still need to eat, but as the economy heated up, families started relying less on SHARE. Other food pantries and agencies also increasingly started feeding the hungry.
Now, most requests for help result from family emergencies.
“We were doing 15 deliveries a week five years ago,” said the president of SHARE’s board, Tim Donahoe. “Now, we’re doing maybe one a day.”
SHARE only employed one person, who worked part-time. After more than four decades, its volunteers had grown tired and they had no replacements. Fewer people needed assistance.
So the board decided it was time to close up shop.
The board “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,” Sottosanti told JaNae Francis, a reporter for the Standard-Examiner. “It’s a big operation but people were just running out of gas.”
SHARE gave its food storage units to Catholic Community Services of Northern Utah and other nonprofits. It also transferred its annual Christmas fundraiser to the Daughters of Charity.
Now, after 42 years of feeding the hungry, SHARE’s volunteers can finally take a rest. Many probably probably won’t, however. Because once you’ve dedicated yourself to those in need, it’s hard to pretend their needs no longer exist.
SHARE delivered more than groceries; it provided hope. It put food in children’s empty stomachs and helped families survive hard times.
It made us stronger, and as a community, we are grateful.