Caring is sharing: Non-profit looks to make the holidays a little brighter

Published: Monday, November 25, 2013 at 09:00 AM.

During this time of year, it's common to give back to those in need, whether it's donating to the local food bank, or throwing in a few extra dollars to the red Salvation Army buckets outside of stores. While every little bit helps, those who work inside the offices of small non-profits, new and old, will tell you that there's a demand for charity all year long.

Pennie Lucas has been involved with Caring and Sharing of South Walton for 13 years. She first started out as a volunteer until becoming the director in 2007. In the past decade, Lucas said the need for help has risen drastically.

"There was not the demand that there is today," she said. "There used to be just one person working in the pantry; today we have six. Some days we'll see as many as 76 people, and that's just the morning."

Most of Caring and Sharing clients are single mothers. Some are seasonal workers who rely on tourism and good weather to pay bills.

"For those in the restaurant business, during the summer when their hours are cut, they can't pay bills and it takes so long to get state benefits that work starts up again," Lucas said. "It's a catch-22, it really is."

As benefits such as food stamps have been slashed, Caring and Sharing comes in to bridge the gap, as Lucas said, by providing food, clothing, furniture and monetary help for utilities.  Operating out of its thrift store in Santa Rosa Beach, the 18-year-old non-profit serves individuals and families throughout north and south Walton County.



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