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Homeless 'happy' to clean up Gandy Beach | News

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Homeless 'happy' to clean up Gandy Beach

St. Petersburg, Florida -- Despite the signs at Gandy Beach warning people not to litter, garbage continues to pile up faster than it can be cleaned up.

But on Wednesday morning, dozens of homeless people -- so moved by the helping hand they've received from Pinellas Safe Harbor shelter --volunteered to help with the mess.

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With every piece of trash that Robert Kuhn picks up along Gandy Beach, he's also picking up the pieces of his life. Kuhn is trying to get clean from an addiction to cocaine. At a time when the beach needs all the help it can get, he's getting the help he needs to get his life back on track, thanks to 14 agencies that work with homeless shelter residents.

Kuhn says, "The key is, don't lose hope. I'm like, 52 years old and a lot of people say 'Aw, it's too late now. You might as well just keep doing what you're doing. There's no sense in changing now you know.' But that's giving in and I don't want to give in."

So while the Florida Department of Transportation -- which maintains Gandy Beach -- continues to try to figure out how to keep the shoreline clean, Pinellas Safe Harbor shelter continues to try to make a difference in the lives of the homeless. They say it costs $105 to keep a homeless person in jail if they're charged with a crime like loitering, trespassing, or public intoxication.

It costs $13 a day to house the same person at their shelter.

Sgt. Zach Haisch is with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and he's the program coordinator at Pinellas Safe Harbor. He's says, "A lot of them are just truly victims of the economy that became homeless overnight, so working every day is something that they're used to. So in between jobs and while they're trying to find work, this is a positive thing for them to get out there and do."

Twenty-seven residents of Safe Harbor took part in the cleanup on Wednesday.

1-800-GOT-JUNK, The Getaway , Tampa Bay Val-Pak and Florida Department of Transportation were all a part of the cleanup. 10 volunteers with Val-Pak also helped pick up trash.

More Gandy Beach stories:

Man cooked meth on Gandy Beach

State cracks down on Gandy Beach activities

Community wants safer roads after latest Gandy accident

Body found near Gandy was man who went missing

Seeing Red: Getting traffic signals fixed for you


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