Spirit of volunteerism rewarded with food | CraigDailyPress.com

Spirit of volunteerism rewarded with food

Mikaela Rierson

Remember the time you shoveled snow for the nice lady next door because it was too cold for her to be out? Or the week you drove a friend’s children to school because she was sick? Simple deeds out of the goodness of your heart can turn profitable through a local program designed to promote volunteering. All you have to do is purchase a monthly “share” for a small fee and perform two hours of volunteer work. The result is a box full of groceries to take home to your family.
“This is part of a worldwide program called World Share,” Craig site coordinator Karen Gibson said.
SHARE stands for Self Help And Resource Exchange, a not-for-profit program committed to building community. SHARE’s goal is to break down the barriers that divide people, such as race, religion, gender, age, social and economic classes, by bringing people of all walks of life together to build community where all are respected, nourished. The food in the program is purchased by SHARE food buyers from growers, brokers and packaging plants across the U.S., saving participants up 60 percent over retail. SHARE is not a government program and is funded solely by the price of the food package and sponsorship by organizations.
“The neat thing is that anybody can participate. If you eat, you qualify,” Gibson said. “It’s for people who can afford food as well as people who can’t. You’re not taking food away from anybody when you participate. This is a program to promote volunteer work. If you do volunteer work, you qualify.”
Virtually any kind of volunteer time counts, from helping your neighbor to working at the hospital to singing in the church choir to visiting residents at Sunset Meadows to tutoring a student to helping with scouts or reading to a blind person.
“Anything you do for the good of someone else without getting paid for it qualifies you,” Gibson said.
The cost of a program “share” is $15 for every two hours of volunteer work per month. Gibson said you can buy more than one share a month.
“If you volunteer someplace for eight hours in a month, you can buy four shares of food at a discount,” she said.
When someone buys a share, they get a receipt and a form on which to record their volunteer hours and the signature of the person or business for whom they did the work.
Gibson said it works on the honor system.
“There are a lot of people already doing volunteer work and they can benefit from that. We just want to encourage people to help others in the community, plus we want to build diversity in this program. So we’re trying to get more people out there volunteering and participating in SHARE Craig,” she said.
There are 14 regional offices serving 30 states and there are several states in a district. Denver is the regional office for Colorado, which serves Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, part of South Dakota and part of Nebraska. Gibson said the local site is called SHARE Craig and is underwritten by the Catholic Church.
Orders for monthly shares are taken ahead of deadline, usually around the second Wednesday of the month. The next deadline (to receive a share of food in December) is Nov. 29.
For each $15 share, individuals receive three to four different frozen meats, three to four different vegetables, three to four different fruits and usually two staple items, all totaling approximately $25-$30 worth of food. For an additional $8, individuals can also purchase an add-on meat package for extra protein. People who eat more vegetables than meat can exchange the meat in their share for fruits and veggies at the site.
“You can feed a family of four for about $60. You can buy food in this program with food stamps. The neat thing is, it doesn’t matter who you are or how much money you have – SHARE is open to everybody,” she said. “And for busy people, it’s really an efficient way to shop because you don’t have to spend a long time in the grocery store. You just volunteer, order your share and come pick it up once a month.”
“Right now we have about 70 participants. People come to the Craig site from all over – from Craig, Hayden, Baggs, Steamboat Springs, Maybell and even Dinosaur. Meeker is its own site, and serves Meeker and Rangely,” Gibson said. “Some people who buy shares at our site volunteer at their church singing in the choir or teaching religious education. Some help community groups in town, and some volunteer to help me sort and deliver the food.”
The program has been operating locally about two and one-half years. Eventually, Gibson would like to see more people in the community participate.
Orders for shares can be taken by Gibson at 824-7939, or from 5 to 7 p.m. on Nov. 29 at St. Michael’s Catholic Church, 678 School Street.
“There are so many different ways people can volunteer and help others,” Gibson said. “There is more than enough food for everyone. We’re not really concerned about numbers because we’re a non-profit organization. We’re just here to help others.”

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