photos provided by Harvest House | story by Greg Alexander
Even in the paradise that many know as Destin, there is a large need for assistance with simple daily needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. Since 1987 there has been a place serving that need in Destin and neighboring communities through Harvest House. The mission of Harvest House is to provide food, clothing, and shelter to those who are at a point of need in their life. Jerry Ogle, a local Destin resident, saw a need where many families could benefit from receiving a Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner at no cost. After fundraising for this the first year, he landed an idea to help support and fund the need he was filling… and so the Harvest House began. “It was a simple thing. There were a lot of people in Destin that needed help,” Jerry said. They began accepting donations to process and sell at their own thrift store to support the need of a food pantry. Because the local community has such a giving heart, Harvest House can provide one week of food and clothing items monthly to families and individuals who walk through their door. Destin is an amazingly supportive community that believes in the work they do and Harvest House continues to be successful at serving those in need.
Interview with Lori Joyner, Executive Director – Harvest House
What impact has Harvest House had on the Destin community in the last year?
We have helped families involved and affected by Hurricane Michael. These are people who have had to relocate due to loss of homes, jobs, and their means to live. We have also assisted to alleviate layers of pressure to help keep families together.
For instance, a father with three younger children came to our Food Pantry asking for assistance. When we put the large quantity of food on the table, packed and ready to go, a little boy’s eyes lit up and he turned to say, “All of this is for us? THANK YOU!” His response was so sincere and these are the moments we have to say you’re welcome and turn around to cry. We are so blessed to be able to bridge the gap or take away the stress of a food bill for a week so that their focus can go farther.
What are some of the greatest challenges your organization faces?
We have always encountered the need for more space and faithful volunteers. We have been in the same building for almost 25 years, growing and expanding our little Food Pantry three times but the need for space still exists as we grow.
How did you become involved with Harvest House?
I was going through a transformation of my own asking The Lord to do whatever He wants me to do in life. God was working and started moving a few things around for me. As a move to central Florida fell through, I had the pleasure of meeting Jerry Ogle in June 2009. My sister-in-law and I volunteered to paint the Hosanna House. While painting the women’s area, Jerry and I learned more about each other and his vision for the Harvest House. I dropped in to see Jerry, and the progress of the Hosanna House. I told him we would not be moving, and he could not pull up a chair fast enough. It was a perfect fit for me as every tool I had in my belt, I needed for this job that God set before me. Fast forward ten years later and it has been the most rewarding opportunity of my life. I am truly honored to serve our community by assisting in so many ways, every single day. God is so good.
Is Harvest House involved in any upcoming events?
Each year we have our biggest event, the Christmas Bazaar. Throughout the year we store the donations with a Christmas theme to them. We set it all out on the second Saturday in November, tables stacked high full of Holiday items. We are blessing our shoppers with free food and drinks available on that day. The 11th Annual Christmas Bazaar will be held Saturday, November 9 from 8am-2pm at 300 Mountain Drive. We are getting the community in the Christmas and giving spirit because when you shop with us you are giving back.
Each year for Thanksgiving and Christmas, we like to bless our families that are on our assistance program with a full and complete holiday dinner at no cost. We like to call it our No Hunger Holidays – Give Your Best Gift. An all-inclusive meal to be cooked in their own home at cost ranges from $45-$55 each meal. If you would like to provide a meal to a family this Thanksgiving and Christmas, please go to HarvestHouseDestin.org.
What is one thing you want readers to know about Harvest House?
Harvest House TOO is now open, and you should come take a look! This is a new way of thrifting, and a boutique style of shopping. We have mostly new and tagged items, displayed nicely and tagged to sell! Located at 114 Palmetto Drive, Suite 1, in Destin, we are open Tuesday – Friday from 10am-4pm.
How can someone become involved or donate?
We have many avenues that everyone can take part in to make our community a stronger one. You can donate your time by volunteering weekly or for special events or donate slightly used or new items. You may donate monetarily by mail, drop-off at either of our stores, online with our donate link, on our website, or donate unexpired food items or host your own food drive.
We are always looking for like-minded businesses to collaborate with and team up with supporting each other to continue to change lives, be God’s hands and feet and hold families together. If you would like to partner with the Harvest House, get in touch with us. You can give us a call at (850) 837-2277 Email Us: HarvestHouseDestin@gmail.com – Go to HarvestHouseDestin.org – or stop in and see us.
Harvest House Food Pantry
300 Mountain Drive, Destin FL 32541
Assistance provided every 30 days in the form of food, clothing, and hygiene items provided at no cost. Available to residents of Destin and Miramar Beach, and also to the homeless. ID, proof of residency, and Social Security cards for children are required.
Harvest House Thrift Store
300 Mountain Drive, Destin FL 32541
Proceeds from donated items sold in the Harvest House thrift store directly support our mission. Harvest House thrift store is a retail store that offers a wide variety of unique items. We offer everything from clothing for the entire family to just about everything you need for your home. We offer quality items at bargain prices.