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Local homeless give back with cleanup of downtown Wichita

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, at 11:25 p.m.

The wind was cold and harsh Monday as a group of seven homeless men and a woman ventured forth to perform some simple acts of kindness.

The idea came from Ernest Robinson, a volunteer at United Methodist Open Door who serves on the Homeless Outreach Committee.

“Every group has a bad seed or bad apple, but overall people are pretty good,” said Robinson, who is homeless. “The idea was to kind of show the surrounding businesses that we wanted to give back. I thought doing a cleanup would be a good start.”

And so, from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Monday, the group picked up trash throughout downtown Wichita and Midtown.

“We had two Dumpsters with us and several bags of trash,” said Deann Smith, executive director of United Methodist Open Door, which provides food, clothing and shelter to people in need.

Robinson said Monday his goal was to help change people’s attitude about the homeless.

“People think the homeless population is always looking for help,” he said. “This is a chance to do a turnaround and give help. It is a chance to come forward and give.”

On Monday, the group picked up plastic straws and cups, paper, bottles and broken glass, and even some items that had been carefully hidden by other homeless people: sleeping bags, blankets and clothes.

“Some of those things had been laying there for a long time and were stuck to the ground,” Robinson said. “They may not have had the means to get them cleaned.”

Smith said the blankets and other items were placed in the Open Door’s lost and found.

“Most (homeless) people are very good and giving,” Smith said. “They are just stuck in a hard place.”

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com

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