Man Cashes In On Mardi Gras

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Michael Smith is a man searching for some malleable metal.

'I average about a hundred dollars a week collecting cans,' says Michael Smith.

That allure of aluminum started when Smith couldn't find a job and found himself homeless.

'Just started collecting cans and stuff just to get by on,' says Smith.

That was three years ago when Charles Beeman had just met Smith.

'It's an amazing transformation,' says Charles Beeman.

Beeman does street ministry through Faith Church.
He helped Smith get this bike with a basket and saw him move from the streets of St. Louis to an apartment of his own.

'And the fact that he tries to fend for himself,' says Beeman.  'There's a lot of government programs that are easily abused.  I think Michael is a good example of someone who's had a rough way to go but is honestly trying to make his own way in life.'

'If you traveled down the streets of Soulard today you noticed the streets were fairly clean,' says Patrick Clark.  'The city did a good job of cleaning up quickly.  Which meant Mike had to get up early to get his hands on some cans?'

'Yeah,' laughs Smith.  'Collected about 300 pounds of cans over the weekend at Mardi Gras.  Just go out before the dumpsters get emptied.'

That's 300 pounds of cans, using only pedal power as a means of moving all that lightweight metal.

'Made about four trips to the junkyard to turn the cans in,' says Smith.

Right now, he's trying to find steady work, but until then you'll see Smith making his way around town.

'Just where the cans are at,' says Smith.

Its that's the kind of can-do attitude that pushes him forward.