Group that feeds homeless kicked out of city park

Some Grand Strand residents who feed homeless people say they were kicked out of a Myrtle Beach city park last weekend, but they've found a new location and plan to fight efforts to keep them out of the park.

In a garden behind Good Shepherd Anglican Church in Myrtle Beach, a local group grows broccoli, kale and other fruits and vegetables.

It's part of what the group does to feed the homeless, but that effort came to a halt last Saturday.

"Police officers came and told us that we would have to stop, that we were in violation of the ordinance," said Richard Hopkins, one of the leaders of the group.

Hopkins says he and the others were told they would need a permit to continue in Chapin Park and they would be limited to no more than four mass feedings in a year, but they want to feed the homeless every Saturday.

"We want to be able to continue doing the feeding and doing it in the park is really where we can do that," Hopkins said. "We see the ordinance as being unjust and we'd like to put an end to the ordinance."

Fellow volunteers George Lorenz and his wife say they were told someone filed a complaint to the city about the group trashing the park, but he says they've never had a problem with that.

"We are very, very explicit with the people that come and ourselves. We have to clean up, you put your stuff in the waste containers, and we follow up afterwards, too," Lorenz said.

After getting the ticket, the group made an effort to find a new location for the feedings. SOS Healthcare a private non-profit organization, offered their building and lot for the mass feedings, in return for cleaning up the grounds.

So for now the group's problem is solved, but Hopkins says only in the short term.

"It doesn't deal with the long term problem of the law, which we feel is immoral."

Hopkins says the informal group isn't affiliated with any larger organization, doesn't solicit donations and doesn't get government money.

He says they're talking to other groups for advice, but aren't sure how they will respond to the ticket and the $262 fine.

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