DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — Food pantries and charities in Northwest Florida are seeing a greater need for items this holiday season. Including Leslie McKinnis and Jason Thomas, currently living in their car after moving from Missouri.
“At first we decided to come to Destin as a vacation,” said Leslie. “It became a staycation.”
The engaged couple says finding an apartment has been tough while looking for employment.
“We just have to find somewhere,” said Leslie. “We just gotta find a place that will allow us to get on our feet,” added Jason.
According to apartments.com, the average apartment cost in Destin is nearly $1,800 dollars a month, which has led to more people like Leslie and Jason using local outreach programs.
“Everything is going up if rent is going up, food is going up you have the same amount of income coming in the house something has to give, that’s the blessing of having food pantries like us,” said Lori Joyner with a local food bank, The Harvest House.
Organizations such as Harvest House and Blue Door Ministry serve the homeless year-round but say this year the need is greater.
“I’d say over the past month we have seen an increase in new people, new faces, they range in age of 20s to 40s,” said Kathy McGee with Blue Door Ministry.
The holiday season typically brings a jump in need, but Harvest House says this year they are seeing more than usual.
“It normally has an increase but not like it has this year. This year is definitely on the rise for people needing food,” said Joyner.
As winter approaches, another concern for those without a home is battling the cold.
“We definitely need a cold night shelter in Destin, we have for years and it has yet to happen,” said McGee. The closest shelters are in Fort Walton Beach.
Both groups accept donations and help anyone in the community with no questions asked.
Leslie and Jason say a hot meal and shower help them continue forward.
“We just got to stick to it and I think we got it. Yeah, we do, we got this,” said Leslie and Jason.
Learn more about Harvest House and Blue Door here: