Tis’ the season for giving, and Caring and Sharing in Santa Rosa Beach is helping give back to the community- in a big way! The nonprofit organization has been in operation since 1995, with the support of churches, civic groups, businesses and individuals through donations and volunteering. For two decades they have provided South Walton families in need with food, clothing and household items.
Caring and Sharing is located off Lynn Drive on the south side of 98 behind the colorful cottages. “The main purpose of our charity is to make sure that no one goes hungry,” said Charlotte McQueen, who helps assist families at Caring and Sharing. Because South Walton is an affluent area, it is sometimes overlooked how many families are struggling, but there are many. “It’s the biggest misconception,” McQueen stated.
The organization consists of a furniture warehouse, food pantry and their Thrift Store and Boutique. Customers will find gently used clothing, books, housewares, electronics and bedding in the thrift store. Sales from the thrift store are used to help families in need by providing them with food, supplies and assistance with bills and prescriptions.
The food pantry is stocked with monetary and food donations from local organizations, churches, businesses and individuals, many of whom participate in food-drives throughout the year. On occasion, Caring and Sharing may have to buy certain items. In addition the US Department of Agriculture works on trying to get some goods at a reduced cost. However, that isn’t always the case. “If we buy from a retail grocery store, we pay full price,” said McQueen. Food is distributed to qualified families, and during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, meal bags are handed out with food most appropriate for the holidays.
Around the holidays, Caring and Sharing also holds their Angel Tree program. It’s an extra project they dedicate to the children in the area. “Our purpose is to have sponsors help give gifts to less fortunate children,” said McQueen.
They start the process of qualifying in early October. Families interested in having their child sponsored, stop in to see McQueen to make sure they qualify. Qualifying children leave a wish list with her. Sponsors pick up the wish lists, buy gifts or gift cards, and drop them off to Caring and Sharing to be sorted and distributed. Information of the children and families remain anonymous. “We abide by confidentiality rules,” said McQueen. During the three days before Christmas, families can stop in to pick up their gifts. “This year we’re going to process more than 350 children,” McQueen stated. “We couldn’t do this without our sponsors.”
While the Angel Tree project is already underway this season, if you are interested in becoming a sponsor, you can stop by Caring and Sharing and speak to McQueen about what is needed. Donations are welcome, or you can sign up to be a sponsor next season.
Caring and Sharing also loves volunteers. There are several opportunities to help in the thrift store, furniture warehouse, sorting and stocking the food pantry, or helping with sorting gifts for the Angel Tree. If you are interested in donating your time, you can stop in to Caring and Sharing at 112 Lynn Drive and speak with McQueen or Kim Hope, the director of Caring and Sharing.