PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — A local woman continued her tradition of providing Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless in downtown Panama City on Thursday morning.

On Thanksgiving, you can find Machell Akins at her usual spot, the Marie Motel, distributing a hot Thanksgiving plate to those in need.

“When my kids were little, I’m a person that prays, and I believe in hearing from God and when my kids were little, I got a word from the Lord that one day I would be doing what I’m doing this as not the only thing, but that will be one of the things I’ll be doing and he said he’d let me know when it was,” Akins said.

Akins was once homeless herself, but now most of what she does now comes from her own pocket.

Akins cooks all of the food and distributes the help of a few volunteers.

“The people that are working with me, I’m very grateful for each and every one of them. First and foremost, of course, I’m thankful to God. I want to give thanks and a special shout-out and thanks to the Keepers at Home of New Covenant Missionary Outreach center in Gulf County.”

Akins also spends the last Saturday of each month feeding the homeless.

She said with the help of surrounding churches and volunteers she’s been able to reach more and more people each year.

“It’s gotten better,” Akins said. “It seems like it gets better and better every year. I’m really excited about it. I had people that came and worked with us for a while. I’ve got some people that are here now helping us, and they are the most amazing group of people. That I could work with.”

Right now, Akins is collecting donations of jackets, blankets, sleeping bags, and tents to give out during Christmas.

Those donations can be dropped off at the UPS Store on 23rd Street in Panama City.

For more ways to donate you can email Machell Akins at