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More homeless youth come to Myrtle Beach; SkyWheel green for awareness

SkyWheel green for awareness (Madeline Montgomery/WPDE)

For one night only, the SkyWheel was lit up green for National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. There's a reason it's an issue in the Grand Strand.

"Everyone wants to come to the beach, and they may have memories when they came down as a child and it was a beautiful wonderful place and full of dream. These kids come down with the expectation that they're going to get great jobs and they're going to get apartments," said Malinda Lautzenhiser, the director of operations at Project Lighthouse.

But that dream doesn't always come true. Seahaven's Project Lighthouse is having to help more homeless youth every year.

"Myrtle Beach is an area a lot of kids run away to, and there are services for those kids so that we can get to them and we can offer them help to get off the street before bad people get to them," said Lautzenhiser.

Last year, Project Lighthouse served 250 kids. We wanted to know: If the numbers are going up, why isn't the public aware that there's a homeless youth problem here?

"They may look like any other school kid with a backpack but if you look closer, that backpack is full of everything they own," said Lautzenhiser.

Project Lighthouse's main goal is to get homeless youth back with their families, but that's rare. They say only 10 to 15 percent of the kids can go home.

"We have a lot of kids...There's poverty at home, they've been asked to leave home because there are other siblings in the house and there's not enough resources to go around. We have youth that are fleeing violence and trauma in their own home, we have youth whose family members have passed away and there's nobody to lean on," said Lautzenhiser.

If you need help from Project Lighthouse or are interested in helping them, visit their website here.

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