Each year during the month of December, the Destin Library hosts a food drive to benefit the Harvest House Food Pantry.
In the past, the library promoted this event as Food for Fines because the value of the donated food item was used to clear library fines on patron accounts.
As of last year, the library no longer charges late fees, so the food drive was rebranded Harvest of Hope.
“Library patrons proved they did not need an incentive to give to a worthy cause and filled our donation basket multiple times over with hundreds of dollars’ worth of food and toiletry items,” said Catherine Card, spokesperson for the city. “The Destin Library was proud to deliver these donations to the Harvest House, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide food, clothing, and shelter to those less fortunate.”
The Harvest House accepts donations for their Food Pantry and Thrift Store all year long. To learn more about their food assistance program, please call 850-837-2277.
“Day of Caring 2022” happening across Okaloosa & Walton
United Way Emerald Coast’s 28th Annual Day of Caring is happening this Friday, January 14th.
Grab your co-workers, friends, family, and neighbors to join hundreds of volunteers completing all kinds of projects benefiting Okaloosa and Walton counties. Day of Caring is United Way’s annual volunteer event where volunteers across the community complete service projects for local nonprofits, human service providers, and community organizations.
In 2019, 841 volunteers from 69 companies participated and completed 62 projects and donated over 6,000 hours of service.
Here are the opportunities:
Destin – 25 Volunteers Needed
Clearing small foliage & brush, cleaning outdoor areas
Construct “Borrow Bins” for public beach access
Fort Walton Beach – 32 Volunteers Needed
Clearing out and organizing, power washing, deep cleaning kitchen and tables
Congressman Matt Gaetz pens letter to Gov. DeSantis regarding ‘vaccine passports’ at 30A Songwriters Festival
Congressman Matt Gaetz sent the following letter on Monday afternoon to Governor Ron DeSantis regarding what he described as “the illegal implementation of vaccine passports” at the 30A Songwriters Festival.
The festival will take place in the First Congressional District of Florida.
Dear Governor DeSantis:
I hope this letter finds you well. On behalf of my constituents, thank you for your bold leadership and sound stewardship of our beloved Florida.
Regrettably, I write to inform you that within my congressional district there appears to be a blatant violation of Executive Order 21-81, “Prohibiting COVID-19 Vaccine Passports.” Your executive order allows entities to engage in COVID-19 screening, generally, but does not permit different treatment for the vaccinated and unvaccinated.
The 30A Songwriters Festival is requiring all participants and patrons to:
“show proof of full vaccination (two shots of Moderna or Pfizer or one shot of Johnson & Johnson) or proof of a professionally administered negative COVID test within 72 hours immediately prior to the start of the Festival.”
This Festival is funded in part by the Tourist Development Council of Walton County, utilizing taxpayer funds. Vaccine passports should not be funded by Florida taxpayers.
I ask that you give this matter your immediate attention and inform the Walton County Tourist Development Council of the ramifications if they proceed in funding the 30A Songwriters Festival under these unlawful conditions.
Matt Gaetz Member of Congress
On Sunday, January 9th, the 30a Songwriters Festival posted their new entrance requirements, safety protocols, and new check-in procedures on their website.
Within the protocols section, the festival wrote:
All Festival Patrons MUST present a negative COVID test (within the previous 72 hours), along with a valid government-issued photo ID, to receive a 30A SONGWRITERS FESTIVAL wristband. (Note: Festival Patrons may choose to present proof of full vaccination in lieu of a negative test).
The website added that they “will accept a printed or digital copy of a negative COVID-19 test result administered by or under the supervision of a healthcare professional within 72 hours of the date of check-in.”
At-home tests will not be accepted.
For entrance to the festival as “fully vaccinated,” guests must have received their second shot of either Moderna or Pfizer on or before December 31, 2021 or their first shot of Johnson & Johnson on or before December 31. 2021.
The festival is scheduled to take place January 14-17, 2022.
No word yet from Gov. DeSantis on this matter.
30A Songwriters Festival responds to ‘vaccine passports’ allegation from Congressman Gaetz
On Monday afternoon, Congressman Matt Gaetzpenned a letter to Governor Ron DeSantis regarding what he described as “the illegal implementation of vaccine passports” for the 30A Songwriters Festival.
In his letter, Congressman Gaetz wrote:
“Regrettably, I write to inform you that within my congressional district there appears to be a blatant violation of Executive Order 21-81, “Prohibiting COVID-19 Vaccine Passports.” Your executive order allows entities to engage in COVID-19 screening, generally, but does not permit different treatment for the vaccinated and unvaccinated.“
On Tuesday afternoon, a representative from the 30a Songwriters Festival responded to the letter.
“The Festival has been co-produced by the non-profit Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County every January for 13 years,” said Russell Carter, Board Member for the Cultural Arts Alliance. “The Festival brings in over 200 nationally recognized touring artists to South Walton to perform in front of an estimated 6,000 paying customers who travel to Walton County from all over the country.”
Carter states that the Festival generates over $8 million in revenue to the resorts, hotels, bars, restaurants, rental home companies and other small businesses throughout the county, according to data from the Walton County TDC.
“This includes Festival Sponsors and Partners as well as every non-affiliated business in South Walton that benefits from the tremendous influx of music fans during this off-season extended weekend,” he said.
Carter says that Congressman Gaetz’s open letter to Gov. DeSantis misrepresented the COVID protocol adopted by the 30A Songwriters Festival for ticket-holders.
“Rep. Gaetz states incorrectly that there is a Vaccine Passport requirement,” said Carter. “This is simply untrue. The Governor’s office has previously reviewed the language we used for our COVID policy and stated publicly and unequivocally that it is acceptable.”
Here is the protocol for the festival posted on their website:
“All Festival Patrons MUST present a negative COVID test (within the previous 72 hours), along with a valid government-issued photo ID, to receive a 30A SONGWRITERS FESTIVAL wristband. (Note: Festival Patrons may choose to present proof of full vaccination in lieu of a negative test).“
Carter went on to reference this previous statement from Gov. DeSantis’ press secretary:
“SB 2006 only prohibits businesses from requiring proof of vaccination from customers as a condition of entry or service,” said Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’ press secretary. “If concert-goers can provide a negative COVID test instead of a vaccine passport, that is acceptable under the law. People who want to show proof of vaccination instead of a COVID test are free to do that. It just cannot be compelled.”
“Based on these stated guidelines from the Governor’s office, Live Nation and other big commercial promoters have produced concerts throughout the state with these legal protocols in effect and the support of the State of Florida,” continued Carter. “Our local non-profit arts alliance deserves the same respect and support.”
As for the open letter, Carter says Congressman Gaetz could have called the Cultural Arts Alliance to clarify what their policy was.
“Rep. Gaetz is no stranger to the 30A Songwriters Festival,” he said. “He represents our county and has attended the Festival at least twice in recent years.”
“The event contributes to the livelihood of Rep. Gaetz’s own constituents, including local businesses who enjoy a boom in what used to be a very sleepy January,” continued Carter.
According to Carter, the festival brings in:
5,600 room nights in Walton County hotels and rental accommodations.
Employs over 200 staff and crew members.
700 volunteers (who work for the festival in exchange for a weekend pass).
Dozens of Walton County Sheriff’s Office off-duty officers.
“All of these people depend on the income, reward and personal enrichment the Festival provides,” ended Carter. “The 2022 30A Songwriters Festival begins at 4:00pm on Friday. We hope you will all join us for a weekend of amazing music.”
‘Party with a Purpose’ for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida
‘Wine & Fries,’ powered by Step One Automotive Group, is happening on Friday, February 18th at Hotel Effie Sandestin.
The neat event will feature the iconic McDonald’s french fries paired with the perfect wine for a party with a purpose. You’ll be able to sip wine, get down on some fries, and bid on auction items, all in an effort to continue keeping families close at Ronald McDonald House.
Wine & Fries will be held on the Ara Rooftop Pool & Lounge located at Hotel Effie Sandestin (1 Grand Sandestin Blvd, Miramar Beach, FL 32550) from 6pm-9pm.
Wine & Fries will feature a wine tasting and menu catered by Hotel Effie Sandestin, and of course, McDonald’s french fries, donated by Costa McDonald’s.
“Wine and Fries has quickly become one of our most loved events,” shared Executive Director, Summer Jimmerson. “We are excited to welcome our Wine and Fries guests to the beautiful rooftop deck at Hotel Effie Sandestin. Nearly 40% of the families who stay at RMHC are traveling from Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay Counties. Wine and Fries has helped us better care for these families traveling for their child’s medical care. We can’t wait to have you join us for Wine and Fries 2022!”