The Ashe County Sharing Center (ACSC) is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month, thanking donors, volunteers and local churches who have helped the nonprofit feed and clothe Ashe’s needy for three decades.
“We couldn’t do any of this without community support,” said ACSC Program Facilitator Michael Sexton. “Especially churches, we get major support from Ashe County’s churches.”
But ACSC also wants to take this occasion to issue a challenge to the community.
“It’s called the ‘30 for 30 challenge,’” Sexton said. “We’re asking all the citizens of Ashe County who can afford to do so to to give us $30, which represents one dollar for each year we’ve been in operation.”
“To give you and idea of what we can do with $30, we can pay the shipment on 375 pounds of food from (Second Harvest Food Bank in Winston-Salem),” he said.
“Thirty dollars can also purchase 15 boxes of cereal, 112 pounds of frozen meat, 110 dozen eggs, or 375 cans of vegetables, ” he said. “That’s what one person giving $30 can accomplish.”
“We’d like for everyone in Ashe to keep in mind that in October and November we were at our peak, and we gave out boxes for 515 families each month, which represented about 1,650 individuals,” he said. “These same individuals come back every month.”
“We gave out in excess of 100,000 pounds of food in 2012,” he said.
Before ACSC opened in January, 1983, a sociological study was done by students at Appalachian State to assess the community need for the food pantry. It was found that among the initial client base of 495 cases:
- 69 percent were female
- 99.4 percent were white
- 44 percent reported $5,000 or less annual income
- 27 percent reported no annual income
- 52 percent were unskilled workers
- 12 percent were disabled
The ACSC opened with 12 volunteers and local cash donations sufficient to operate for six months. The first year, they received grants from the N.C. Department of Social Services and the National Emergency Food and Shelter Board totalling $14,375 — approximately $32,000 in 2012 dollars.
Today, the center has 80-90 volunteers, and continues to operate through donations, grants and the support of local churches.
Sexton said the center has seen a sharp increase in demand for food in recent years. In 2012, ACSC gave 4,350 boxes of groceries to a total 13, 212 clients , up from 2,003 boxes for 5,781 clients in 2011.
The “30 for 30 challenge” is issued to help ACSC meet this growing need going into 2013, he said.
New demographic data for ACSCs client base will be available in coming weeks, he said.
The Ashe County Sharing Center’s physical address is 3 North Third Ave., West Jefferson, NC, 28694. The mailing address is P.O. Box 334 West Jefferson, NC, 28643. The phone number is 336-846-7019.
The center is open 20 hours per week, from 10-12 p.m. and again from 1-3 p.m. Monday through Friday. They are also open from 9-12 p.m. the first Saturday of every month.