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Kingston Food Bank needs help

Barb Fulton looks at the shelves of the Kingston Food Bank. - Megan Stephenson / KCN
Barb Fulton looks at the shelves of the Kingston Food Bank.
— image credit: Megan Stephenson / KCN

KINGSTON — In times like these, our communities need all the help they can get. Which is why Barb Fulton wants to remind everyone the Kingston Food Bank is at your disposal.

The area’s first food bank is, however, hitting a rough patch. After the busy holiday season, they are down in donations — and have been informed their building will be torn down in a year.

“I gotta keep going. There’s a need here and I’m not going to give up,” Fulton said.

Her parents, Ray and Vi Weaver, began the Kingston Food Bank in their home 55 years ago. In fact, Ray built the food bank’s current location himself, as an ambulance building next to the fire station (now Firehouse Theater and Oak Table Cafe).

“It’s never been out of our family’s hands,” Fulton said. She previously drove a school bus for 32 years, when a multiple sclerosis diagnosis compelled her to retire. After Vi passed away two years ago, Fulton took over the organization.

Fulton said she remembers when she was young, sometimes hunters from Port Gamble S’Klallam would “lay a deer on our back porch ... [That] was their way of paying back.”

The food bank serves about 100 families a month, where they get one basket of food per month with canned goods, cereal, rice, beans, and other staples. Clients are able to come back as often as they need to pick up fresh fruit and vegetables, and peruse the tables with clothes, pet food and toys, even a few household items like a Mr. Coffee.

Ken Price is a regular client who said he likes coming to this food bank because they’re friendly.

“There’s always stuff to look through,” he said, eyeing a large picture frame that his wife would like. Price is a retired sheet rock worker, and lives with his wife and their three older children.

“It’s hard to make ends meet,” he said.

Fulton said she works with Kingston’s other food bank, ShareNet, when each organization has an overabundance of something, and local businesses are “awesome.” Borrowed Kitchen donated 300 loaves of bread and rolls for the Christmas baskets, and brings bread every week. The Grub Hut donates fruits and vegetables from Costco every week, and Little City Catering brings the volunteers lunch.

Fulton is helped out by her children, grandchildren, nephew, and a few local residents. Roni Gruber said she began volunteering by packing lunches for Wolfle Elementary students last summer, and when school started she wanted to continue.

“I’m fortunate enough that I don’t have to work,” she said. “It’s a good place for me, mentally and physically ...

“In life you have to find something bigger than yourself. For me, this is it.”Fulton and Gruber said they need more volunteers and donations, and are looking for someone to sponsor a food drive. The last time they hit a rough patch, about eight years ago with only a few cans on their shelves, Fulton said “the town rallied and filled our shelves” — something she hopes they’ll do again.

The food bank, 26096 W 1st St., is open Wednesdays and Fridays, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call (360) 297-4861.

 

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