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$73,846: Neighbor Aid breaks a record
KINGSTON — More than 300 donors — churches, companies, households, individuals and organizations — donated $73,846 to Neighbor Aid during the fall/winter campaign, which ended in January.
The amount is a record and will help ShareNet extends its reach of help. Last fall/winter, the campaign raised $60,000.
“It’s just amazing,” ShareNet board secretary Barbara Brumagin said Jan. 25. “I think everyone doing what they can makes a difference ... Last year, we gave $33,000 to help people with their electricity and rent, and we will be able to do that again and probably more.”
ShareNet serves Eglon, Hansville, Indianola, Kingston Little Boston, Port Gamble, and a portion of Poulsbo and Suquamish.
ShareNet operates a food bank, a clothing bank, and a program to make nutritious food available for school children on weekends.
ShareNet also assists families and individuals facing eviction or needing help keeping their utilities on.
Between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011, ShareNet put food on people’s tables 9,578 times. Some 260,929 pounds of food were distributed.
ShareNet spent $30,000 in 2011 helping people avoid eviction and keep their electricity on. ShareNet provided more than 165 new, stocked backpacks to students needing back to school supplies. Adults needing clothes for work received them from ShareWear.
The Thanksgiving holiday meal box program served 695 individuals with a total of 11,321 pounds of food, each box containing enough for Thanksgiving and several meals beyond. The Christmas Shop ensured more than 190 children received Christmas gifts.
The continued increase in the number of people helped by ShareNet paints a picture of the times: In 2007-08, ShareNet’s food assistance was almost one-fourth of what it is today. ShareNet’s staff has met the need without an increase in staffing or space; today, it has the same number of staff (four part-timers) in the same space as 2007-08. (Volunteers worked 3,938 hours on 2011, according to the ShareNet website.)
ShareNet’s annual budget is about $150,000.
ShareNet executive director Mark Ince theorized that giving has increased because people in the community are seeing the need close to home.
“They’re feeling the pinch themselves, whereas maybe four years ago (the economic downturn) hadn’t hit Kitsap that hard,” Ince said. “Now, maybe they have neighbors who are suffering, or family members who are suffering. They are seeing it up close and personal in their own lives.”
Ince said the increase in giving will enable ShareNet to help more people.
“More money allows us to serve more people, to augment our current programs and to create new programs. We created Food to Grow On, which provides weekend food for school children. That continues to expand. This year, we’ve added Kingston High School for the first time. (Giving) allows us to have a bigger impact on the community.”
Brumagin said giving to Neighbor Aid was diverse. Liberty Bay Auto in Poulsbo donated $100 for every car sold in November; that came out to $5,000. Two donors gave money from trust funds. Others gave what they could.
“We are very humbled and grateful,” Brumagin said. “This is thrilling and humbling. We feel a great sense of responsibility.”
On Nov. 1, an event, “The Five Levels of Leadership featuring Dr. John C. Maxwell,” at the Kitsap Convention Center Harborside in Bremerton, raised $13,000 for ShareNet.