PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — For several years now a local woman, who used to be homeless, has been helping people who are now in the same circumstances.

“I was homeless many years ago when my children were little, and it was a hard thing, you know, being homeless and having to try to take care of children,” Machell Akins said.

She used her story to create Project Feeding Our Homeless and Hungry in 2017. Year round the organization provides hot meals for those in need.

“A major increase in need in Bay County, I’m quite saddened, to be quite honest, because some people look at our homeless and hungry and they make derogatory comments about why they’re homeless and we are all every one of us are just here in line away from being homeless,” Akins said.

During the holiday season, Akins provides a meal for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“It’s been proven that depression gets stronger during this time of the year and if we can do anything, just a little something to encourage them and give them hope and let them know that they’re not forgotten and that they are loved, we can help,” Akins said.

She’s also planning to give bundles to those in need this Christmas. They’ll include new socks, t-shirts, underwear, jackets, and blankets. If you’d like to help, drop off donations at the UPS Store on 23rd Street in Panama City now through December 18th.

“There are so many people that need help and eventually, we run out of our own resources and so it takes just it takes a village to raise children it takes a village and a community to help a community,” Akins said.

The Thanksgiving meal will be on November 20th from 12-2 p.m. The Christmas meal will be on December 21 from 1-3 p.m. Both meals will be at the Marie Motel in Panama City.