Catholic Charities Attempts To Change Poverty in Bay County

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PANAMA CITY -- Chances are you've heard of Catholic Charities. But you may not realize the extent of services the non-profit offers to those needing a hand. People can receive anything from food and clothing, to drug counseling and household financial planning.

Tara Catalano-Smith is the supervisor at the Catholic Charities thrift store. Like the organization, she's passionate about helping impoverished people within the community.

"We will help them with trolley fare. We'll help them with clothing. Seven days' worth of work clothes the best that I have. So realistically the goal of Catholic Charities is to get people working, if they're not working we find out why they're not and how we can help them,” said Catalano-Smith.

Catholic Charities operates residential shelters, childcare nurseries, budget-planning classes and a number of other community-oriented programs.

Volunteers play a major role.

"This store has been here for over 15 years and without volunteers we would be nowhere,” said Catalano-Smith.

She calls the thrift store "the fun part.” You can find anything from clothes and shoes, to furniture.

Shopper Amanda Hutchinson said, "It's really good because they charge low prices for their clothes and all their furniture. And they help families in need."

Most of the profits go to help families.

Behind the thrift shop, Catholic Charities has a garden. And its produce is free for families in need.

"Families that are getting food stamps or WIC, they get their food from those resources. But we tend to give those fruits and vegetables free of charge to families that are not receiving any other benefits,” said Catalano-Smith.

She says her main objective is to make an impact on poverty in Bay County.

Catholic Charities is always looking for volunteers. Their Thrift Store is located at 2922 E. Business Hwy 98.

For more information call 850-763-5379.