Tis the season here on the Emerald Coast, a time to count our many blessings, but it’s also a time to give back to those less fortunate. For many families this holiday season, Christmas represents a time that they can’t afford to buy gifts for their children; that’s where Caring and Sharing of South Walton and Risa’s Interiors come in.
Again this year, local owner Risa Priestly, interior designer of Risa’s Interiors in Miramar Beach is collaborating with Caring and Sharing, by providing an ‘Angel Tree’ with a little something extra for Moms who come to pick up their children’s Christmas gifts. “When families, (mostly single mothers) come in to pick up gifts for their children, we like to add a gift card in the care package as well, just to help with the added expense that the holidays bring,” says Kim Hope, Director of Caring and Sharing. “We are so thankful to all of our volunteers and everyone in the community that continues to show amazing generosity. Your support is our inspiration,” she says.
The process for qualifying begins in early October. Families interested in having their child sponsored stop into Caring and Sharing to get qualified. Qualifying children leave a wish list with them. 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.
The South Walton Fire District sponsors the first 100 children. Other sponsors include Point Washington Methodist Church, Christ the King Episcopal, Chapel at Cross Point, Good News Methodist Church, South Walton Utility Association, Continental Pacific, Seaside Chapel, Chapel at Rosemary Beach and other private donors. “It’s a real collaborative effort,” said Amariles Rosado, Assistant Director of Caring and Sharing. “We’re not able to do it without them.”
Some of the churches have asked to sponsor a few more families that weren’t able to sign up on time. “With Risa’s, if they put a gift card on the tree, then we can give those gift cards to kids who didn’t quite get as much, or have a special need,”
There is also a need for warm weather clothing. Schools have called Caring and Sharing to let them know that kids are playing outside in the cold weather and have no winter jackets or hats. “If people want to donate hats, gloves and jackets that would be very helpful,” said Amariles. “There’s a big need. As soon as we receive these items, they are gifted to a child in need.”
If you are interested in making a donation, Caring and Sharing is located at 112 Lynn Drive on the south side of 98 behind the colorful cottages. Risa’s Interior’s is located at 10123 Emerald Coast Parkway in Miramar Beach.