LCSO, volunteers clean up homeless camps in Lehigh Acres

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LEHIGH ACRES, Fla.- The Lee County Sheriff’s Office is working with the community to clean up homeless camps.

Deputies tell WINK News it’s become a serious problem in the area. They say one of the worst homeless camps is behind businesses on Lee Boulevard, where you can see the trash scattered all over the place

While it is illegal for people to stay out in the area, the sheriff’s office says busting people is not the goal of Thursday’s cleanup.

“It looks like a dump site. I thought I was walking through a dump site of waste management,” said Sgt. Gus Vallejo.

Trash, a mattress, and more trash littered a wooded area off Beth Stacey Boulevard, one of six known homeless camps in Lehigh Acres.

“If I had more deputies, it would afford me the resources to go out and actually patrol these areas. But when I’m dealing with shootings and burglaries that are rampant through Lehigh, it doesn’t give me enough resources to work every problem,” said Vallejo.

Sgt. Vallejo hopes to change that. After a call from a concerned community member, the sheriff’s office and volunteers went out to the area to clean up. More importantly, they say they want to provide resources to those living out there.

“It really bothers me to see so many homeless in the United States. If we can come out, and try to educate them, and get them under a roof, and get them some food, by cleaning up these messes it’s going to deter them from coming back out here because their home is gone,” said volunteer Darnell Jordan.

The Salvation Army was out in the area, helping a man find a place to stay and what he needs to get back on his feet. Organizers say that’s what this effort is really all about.

“Cleaning up the trash, yes, it’s good for the environment, it’s a great thing but even if we touched that one gentleman’s life, we’ve done something to start the process,” said community coordinator Andrea Adams.

The sheriff’s office encountered four people while going through the camps and offered help to each of them. Authorities say a lot of the people living in the camps have addiction issues or are involved with other criminal activity.

Officials and volunteers plan to continue cleaning up other sites Friday.

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