Jerry Pryor, 73, starts his day around 5 a.m. He packs up his sleeping cot, tarp, clothes and tools that dangle inside plastic shopping bags attached to a heaping cart, and he begins his slow shuffle up and down what he calls “The Trail.”

Merchants along the stretch near Lakewood Village watch for him, hunched and dragging his familiar cart that carries all of his possessions.

Along The Trail—which spans from Cherry Avenue to Woodruff Avenue—Pryor picks up trash, trims bushes, pulls weeds and sweeps up. He brings the waitresses at Dale’s Diner cans of peaches and other gifts.

Though he’s homeless, Pryor’s presence and spirit of humble helpfulness has inspired an unlikely bond: Businesses in the area have started a GoFundMe to buy him gift cards, give him a meal and hot cup of coffee—and have even tried to find him a room.

“I’m pretty sure our street would not be clean if it wasn’t for him,” said Cassandra Vazquez, who works at Hojas Tea House in the Norse Way Triangle, which recently raised enough money to buy Pryor a new cot. “He comes to our place pretty much every day.”

The tea house collects money from its customers, and employees.

“He’s a humble man,” Vazquez said. “He always thinks about others and wants to share what he has.”

Pryor has long connections to Long Beach. He graduated from Wilson High School in 1963, and held a job at a printing plant after graduating, said his sister-in-law, Carolyn Pryor.

He lived on his own for a while, then later worked for his brother Danny and lived in a motorhome parked in his brother’s driveway.

Shortly after his brother died in 2001, the motorhome needed to be moved for some repairs to the home. Carolyn, who was married to Danny, said the family offered to pay for a place where Pryor could park his motorhome, but he wouldn’t take them up on the offer.

“There’s no strife or animosity,” she said. “He just likes to do things his own way.”

Carolyn now lives in Tennessee, and Pryor has visited a few times. She said he “always has a home if he wants it.”

In the meantime, local resident Bruce DeMille set up a GoFundMe account called “Friends of Jerry.”

DeMille uses the money to buy gift cards to grocery stores and local restaurants that Pryor likes to frequent almost daily, and all the money goes to Pryor and whatever he needs.

“Jerry’s kind of a what I call a local icon or Lakewood Village asset, and people respect what he does for the neighborhood,” DeMille said. “I don’t have any solutions myself; I’m just helping one guy and Jerry’s a good guy to help.“

Jerry Pryor, 73, pulls his wagon along Norse Way, in Lakewood Village in Long Beach, along what he calls “The Trail.” Pryor, who was raised in Long Beach, is homeless and has picked up trash and trimmed the bushes in the area for more than a decade.  Photo by Stephen Carr.

Jerry Pryor, 73, cleans the sidewalk along Norse Way, in Lakewood Village in Long Beach, along what he calls “The Trail.” Photo by Stephen Carr.

Jerry Pryor, 73, puts away a new pack of socks he received from Griselda Alvarez, who works at Hojas Tea House, a place he frequents. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Jerry Pryor, 73, puts on his new pair of socks he received from Griselda Alvarez, who works at Hojas Tea House, a place he frequents. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Jerry Pryor, 73, attempts to dry out his sleeping bag along Norse Way, in Lakewood Village in Long Beach, along what he calls “The Trail.” Photo by Stephen Carr.

Jerry Pryor, 73, grabs a bite to eat and something hot to drink at Hojas Tea House, along Norse Way, in Lakewood Village in Long Beach. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Jerry Pryor, 73, attempts to dry out his sleeping bag along Norse Way, in Lakewood Village in Long Beach. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Jerry Pryor, 73, receives a new belt from Griselda Alvarez, left, who works at Hojas Tea House, a place he frequents. Photo by Stephen Carr.

A Wilson High School yearbook photo of Jerry Pryor, who graduated Wilson in 1963.

A photo of Danny Pryor and his wife of 40 years Carolyn Pryor. Danny, who passed away in 2001, was the brother of Jerry Pryor,73, is  now homeless. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Jerry Pryor, 73, attempts to stay dry during a rainstorm, as he pulls his wagon in the parking lot of Jack in the Box in the Norse Way triangle. Pryor who was raised in Long Beach, is homeless and has picked up trash and trimmed the bushes along “The Trail.” Photo by Stephen Carr.

Jerry Pryor, 73, attempts to stay dry during a rainstorm, as he pulls his wagon out of the parking lot of Jack in the Box in the Norse Way triangle. Photo by Stephen Carr.

During a rainstorm, Jerry Pryor, 73, covers his wagon and prepares a place to sleep for the night. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Jerry Pryor, 73, cleans the sidewalk along Norse Way, in Lakewood Village in Long Beach, along what he calls “The Trail.” Photo by Stephen Carr.

Jerry Pryor, 73, pulls his wagon on a recent foggy morning as he cleans the sidewalks along Norse Way, in Lakewood Village in Long Beach. Photo by Stephen Carr.

Jerry Pryor, 73, pulls his wagon on a recent foggy morning as he cleans the sidewalks along Norse Way, in Lakewood Village in Long Beach. Photo by Stephen Carr.

You may have seen Jerry Pryor as he pulls his neatly organized wagon along Carson Street in East Long Beach, picking up trash, trimming the bushes or grabbing a bite to eat at a local restaurant. Photo by Stephen Carr.

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