ST. GEORGE – The staff of locally based charity Dixie Care and Share works tirelessly to meet the needs of the impoverished in Washington County, but they cannot do it alone.
DCS was founded in 1980 by Harvey and Ruth McGee and began as a small, community-oriented service to help families who could not afford sufficient meals. Mirroring the rapid population increase of Southwest Utah in the years since, the organization has grown exponentially. In 2010, they provided nearly 9,000 food boxes and that number is expected to rise in the future.
A fairly new addition to DCS is the Community Soup Kitchen, which is operated by Grace Episcopal Church in St. George. The all-volunteer staff provides hot lunches to those in need Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the church itself. Jim Roberts, who was appointed director along with his wife Sue Ann on March 1, said that although running the kitchen is challenging, it is rewarding work.
“When we took over, we lacked any (semblance of a) budget and there was little organization among the teams that cook the food,” he said. “In the last 6 weeks we have reconstituted the volunteers and set up relationships with the Utah Food Bank and (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) so we have plenty of food to serve. We are also working to increase our budget, which will be done through fundraising.”
One such effort is the Egg & I 5th Anniversary Fundraiser, to be held the week of May 14. The Egg & I is a breakfast and lunch restaurant and part of the Sunset Corner plaza in St. George. Owner Julie Snook is a member of Grace Episcopal Church and a volunteer at the soup kitchen, so it was only fitting that she pair the business milestone with a cause close to her heart.
“When thinking about how I was going to celebrate my anniversary, I knew I wanted to do something that would allow me to give back,” she said. “Then I met Jim Roberts and knew the Community Soup Kitchen needed to be the beneficiary of my fundraiser. Not only can I raise money, but also awareness of this need in our community.”
Snook promised to donate 5 percent of the restaurant’s earnings from the week to DCS as well as 500 dollars from her own budget.
Aside from the soup kitchen, the organization offers many services to the community. Their homeless shelter, the only one of its kind in the county, provides meals for guests, free daily showers for the homeless, job training and adult educational programs. By associating with the Utah Emergency Food Network, they are able to arrange monthly food boxes for low-income households. Their two food banks in St. George and Hurricane provide milk vouchers to families with young children and meals to local residents below the poverty line. DCS has also joined forces with numerous secondhand shops and charity organizations in the area, including Deseret Industries, Dixie Regional Medical Center’s Repeat Performance thrift store, the Garage Sale Company and the Salvation Army. These partnerships help provide vouchers for much-needed items, such as clothing, furniture, gasoline and bus transportation.
Despite the community’s support, which Roberts said he is extremely grateful for, DCS continues to struggle to meet the ever-growing demand for the charity’s services. Donations from business organizations and individuals are a crucial need, as well as in-person assistance. Volunteers are needed for many programs throughout the year.
“The soup kitchen represents an opportunity for me to aid those who are less fortunate,” retired groundskeeper Frederick Geithman said, who has been involved with DCS since 2010. “I really like the idea of providing a nourishing meal to someone who otherwise might not get one.”
Added Don Henson, another staff member, “If you have never volunteered, do it. The rewards of helping someone less fortunate far outweighs the time you spend.”
For more information on how you can help, visit DCS’s website or their headquarters at 131 North 300 West in St. George.
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Copyright 2012 St. George News