A viral video showing what someone thought was Houston Police officers taking donations given to the homeless and tossing them in a dumpster made a lot of people angry.
However, KHOU 11 News learned the video isn't what it appears.
This time of year, people are in the giving spirit. Dozens of gifts are dropped off for the homeless downtown under the bridge on Commerce Street.
"I was here having lunch and I saw a few groups out here,” said Mike Nichols, who was downtown Friday afternoon.
He was surprised when Houston Police showed up, so he took out his cell phone and started recording.
"They threw away like some of the food that was laid out, a lot of the covers,” Nichols said.
He thought police were throwing out donations, so we called HPD.
"HPD officers were not out there discarding people's property. They need to know that, that was not the case. They weren't taking food from individuals and throwing it away. That was not the case," said Captain Wendy Baimbridge, who oversees the department's Homeless Outreach Team.
She says only items that were left behind on the sidewalk, that didn't belong to anyone, were thrown away.
"It can be food, it can be just you name it. If we didn't take the property, it would be a health issue,” Baimbridge said.
"Especially during the holiday season, so much is given so much is given to individuals on the street, a lot of it goes unused and stays there on the streets," said Marc Eichenbaum, Special Assistant to the Mayor for Homeless Initiatives.
It's actually the Downtown Management District that sends a dumpster through on a regular basis. Officials at City Hall say it's about keeping the streets clean and safe, so they can get the homeless real help.
"What those folks need more than just a sandwich or loose change is they need housing and a job and that's what we're working on,” Eichenbaum said.
Mayor Turner has previously asked people to consider giving to organizations focused on housing like The Way Home instead of giving to people living on the street.
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