Published October 15, 2011
St. Petersburg, FL – When Home Depot's Jorge Quintana gave someone a ride to Pinellas Hope in Pinellas County, Florida, he looked around the ever-expanding tent city for the homeless and felt truly inspired by what he saw, MyFoxTampaBay reports.
"You see everything is well-maintained and it's great, it catches my eye" Quintana said Friday. "Everybody's so grateful, they want to give a little more and more and more to get themselves better."
That's what inspired "Team Home Depot" to spend a day at Pinellas Hope where they built a gazebo, a pole barn and platforms to go under tents.
The dozens of volunteers came from eleven Bay Area stores. The company also gave generous donations including planting materials for the community garden, chairs, picnic tables, outdoor gas grills, generators and portable heaters.
"Home Depot asked what we needed, and we gave them a laundry list, and they brought more than the laundry list," said Catholic Charity's Sheila Lopez, who has overseen the camp since it opened almost five years ago.
Dozens of Pinellas Hope residents also pitched in. Michael Berndt is an unemployed chef and he gladly helped out by assembling lawn chairs..
"I was in need... I was going to be homeless. It's a chance to exercise, give something back, to say thank you," Berndt said.
Lopez says more than a thousand people a year pass through here, with about 280 people staying in tents, and 80 who stay in small but affordable apartments on the compound.
However, Pinellas Hope is still mostly a tent city.
"Our cost is so low for the tents that you always would want to keep the tents," Lopez said.
You've got to lift their spirits so that they feel like they're a person, and if you can't do that - you're in trouble, says Lopez.
Winter is coming and they have no blankets, but probably not for long because Panellas Hope has become a magnet for businesses and organizations that want to help the homeless.