PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — With dangerously cold temperatures expected over the weekend, local agencies are working together to make sure every homeless person is provided for.
“So many of us are just so blessed to have a warm place to sleep and a warm place to eat and to be able to celebrate the holidays with family,” Executive Director of Rebuild Bay County Inc. Donna Pilson said. “Unfortunately, there are many in this community that don’t have that and so we don’t want to leave those for those residents of Bay County out in the cold.”
The Pastors United, Rebuild Bay County Inc., Bay County Emergency Management, and the city of Panama City pooled their efforts to open an emergency warming shelter at the A.D. Harris Learning Village on East 11th Street.
“We can provide cots, we can provide blankets, comfort kits,” Pilson said. “We’ll have water, coffee, and meals ready to eat and then anything beyond that, we’ll just have to see as we go along at this time.”
The emergency warming shelter opens Thursday evening from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and will operate through Monday morning. Rebuild Bay County Inc. said the homeless population is growing in the area.
“The spike in requests for places to stay or some type of shelter have just gone through the roof, come into our office and we’ve not really been able to keep up with that needs,” Pilson said.
Before Hurricane Michael, the Panama City Rescue Mission was the cold weather shelter. But, the mission is just reopening and doesn’t have the funds to handle overnight lodging.
Workers are handing out blankets, jackets, hats, and scarves to anyone in need. They’ve had dozens of people stop by this week.
“They were so thankful to receive a heavy jacket to receive a blanket, a few of them said, ‘I stay in the woods And this means a lot to me to keep me warm’,” Rescue Mission coordinator Michelle Bates said.
The emergency shelter needs volunteers. Click here if you are interested in signing up.