Many hands make light work when it comes to clean up

Historic City News followed up with St Augustine resident Kevin Crowell after our interview last month to see how well his first effort at a homeless camp clean up worked out.  According to Crowell, the spirit behind Operation Clean Camp 2019, on the scheduled Saturday, they were able to cover a 300-meter area of litter, hauling out over 1700 lbs. of waste and debris.

Crowell made an impassioned plea for volunteers to help clean out the remains of an abandoned homeless campsite east of The St Augustine Record building.  He told Historic City News editor Michael Gold that the targeted sites for his operation are clearly presenting a health and safety risk to residents in nearby neighborhoods.

“Local folks showed up and brought homemade food for the workers,” Crowell said.  “The next cleanup will solely focus on the main camp.  Then that camp is clean!”

We were impressed that while he was asking for volunteers to help, he did not try to sugarcoat the task at hand — calling the work “disgusting” but saying that he was willing to get started.  Another challenge was his goal to make the clean up a coordinated effort where the homeless population in St Johns County pitches in with community volunteers to clear out the debris.

That premise was hard to grasp.  During his update, however, we learned that four homeless folks helped nearly all day.  Candidly, Crowell told us that he was prepared to go the entire clean up operation himself, even if no help showed.  He said that he was thankful and grateful for any volunteers or donated supplies to this effort to eliminate this dangerous biohazard at our doors.

“There is at least three times the amount of trash remaining in the main camp.  That’s the only good news.  It is confined to one area,” said Crowell.  “We’ll also be clearing a more direct path from the road to the main camp.  There’s already a trail, it just needs some work done to it.”

As he was leaving the first camp area, Crowell said that he met up with a fellow Veteran from years ago at a Wounded Warrior Event.  He reported that he recruited his friend to help on the next clean up.

“He’ll be able to take the trash to the landfill while I continue to clean,” Crowell said.  “I’ll be asking for help on this next clean up from Wounded Warrior Project as well as my Elks Lodge, VFW Post, various churches, and my YMCA.  Each camp in St. Johns County will be cleaned up.”

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