For the past week we have spent a number of rewarding hours volunteering with an organization called Caring and Sharing of South Walton County. We first got connected with the group through the Seaside Chapel when I noticed that on their Facebook page the Chapel was seeking volunteers to help stuff food bags at Caring and Sharing for Thanksgiving. Betsy and I knew the chapel existed and had walked by it for many years but never attended a service. This seemed a perfect opportunity for us to become acquainted with the chapel and satisfy our interest in volunteering during our four-month stay in the Florida panhandle.
Caring and Sharing was formed in 1995 when four ministers decided to establish a single place where needy families could go for assistance; instead of people having to go from church to church. The organization’s main mission is their food pantry (the only one in South Walton County) but also runs a thrift store, provides medical prescriptions, and assistance with rent, electric and water bills. The organization is run by seven staff and relies heavily on volunteers to fulfill their mission. The downtrodden economy has taken a heavy toll on local families which is evident by the 7,402 families who received assistance from the food pantry last year.
Betsy and I were amazed at the amount of food that is donated by businesses and the local community. In 2012, Caring and Sharing passed out 13,210 bags of food. The thrift store and monetary donations are used to purchase food staples to keep the pantry stocked year-round. We were happy to sort the myriad of food items that was recently donated for Thanksgiving and it gave us an idea of just how much work the dedicated volunteers do and how critical they are to achieving the organizations mission.
|sorted food items were placed in bags for |
|donated frozen turkeys accompanied the food|
bags with all the Thanksgiving fixings -
gravy, cranberries, stuffing, vegetables,
|some people's need for food assistance was overwhelming, bringing tears to my eyes and extreme thankfulness|
for all the blessings in my life