CORONAVIRUS: STRONGER TOGETHER

Tri-City Exchange Now Helps Hundreds Of Families Daily

Apr 17, 2020, 5:33 AM | Updated: Sep 7, 2020, 5:42 am

NORTH OGDEN, Utah – The Tri-City Exchange hasn’t yet been open three weeks, and already it’s helping hundreds of families daily, according to its creators.

Mike Larson said Thursday large companies, manufacturers and grocery store chains have stepped in since the exchange’s inception in late March to donate much needed supplies ranging from canned goods to produce to perishables to diapers.

People can then come to the warehouse, 2067 N. Washington Blvd., and get what they need for their families at no cost.

“I mean, it is an exchange, so we encourage people to bring something in — even if it’s a pack of noodles,” Larson said.

Larson said “in his wildest dreams” he wouldn’t have imagined how busy the exchange would be.

“On average, we’re taking care of about 240 families a day,” he said. “I’d say 70% of it is coming from the three cities (North Ogden, Harrisville, Pleasant View). The rest is coming from anywhere as far as Logan to Provo.”

Larson said the exchange is sending roughly 2,000 pounds of produce, breads and miscellaneous goods plus 800 pounds of diapers per week to Price and also aids multiple charitable organizations that assist the homeless population.

“I would be heartbroken to know somebody is hungry somewhere else, so we help everybody anywhere,” Larson said.

The exchange is sometimes helping people in ways Larson couldn’t have envisioned.

Before Shara Bartlett was a volunteer, she was a customer.

“My husband has brain cancer, and he had a stroke and he became fully disabled. And I became his full-time caregiver,” Bartlett said. “I needed a way to kind of make ends meet — especially during this time because we weren’t able to do other things to come up with money. So I came over here, and I was able to get some food and just thought it was such a great program.”

Bartlett now helps others who are struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, an exercise that has been therapeutic.

“It just feels good to be able to give back to the community and know that other people are being taken care of as well,” she said.

Tauna James was among those who walked away with several sacks of food and supplies Thursday afternoon.

She acknowledged coronavirus had only made life more difficult.

“I don’t know,” she shrugged nervously. “It’s scary — scares me.”

Larson, the co-owner of body armor manufacturer Advanced Armor Technology, said he originally planned to keep the exchange open for about 60 days.

Already, he sees that business model changing.

“We’re here for the long haul,” Larson said. “If they need food, we’re going to be here until they don’t need it anymore.”

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Tri-City Exchange Now Helps Hundreds Of Families Daily