Huntsville, Alabama, man Rodney Smith Jr., whose incredible project of traveling to all 50 states to mow lawns for disabled veterans began in 2016, is now adding grocery and supply drops to his mission. Smith founded Raising Men Lawn Service, “an organization that teaches kids to mow free lawns for those in need in their community,” as explained to People of Alabama.
Now with the pandemic forcing many sick and elderly people to shelter in place for several months, Smith has expanded his mission.
Besides mowing lawns, he drops off essential supplies such as “hand sanitizer, fresh fruit, water, toilet paper, and other items for those who can’t get outside of their house,” as he told Al.com.
Smith told WZTV that he received a divine calling in 2015 to mow lawns for those who couldn’t after witnessing an elderly man struggling with his. “That night I decided to mow free lawns for the elderly, disabled, single moms, and veterans,” she said.
Originally from Bermuda, Smith studied at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, which became his home base ever since. From that initial kind gesture came a vision that would take Smith through all 50 states, leaving neat and tidy lawns, not to mention grateful owners, all along the way.
His act of service inspired a lot of appreciation online, and donations from people on social media literally fueled his lawnmower and his project.
Once he got going, Smith enlisted hundreds of thousands of children across the United States to get involved through his foundation. “We have boys and girls taking part in the program,” he told Good Morning America. “We are trying to encourage boys and girls to get out there and make a difference, one lawn at a time.”
After achieving his goal of mowing in all 50 states in 2019, Smith hasn’t stopped. “I’m just mowing and doing what I love to do best: helping others,” he told Al.com. Meanwhile, he created a “50 Yard Challenge,” in which kids agree to mow 50 different lawns in their community. When they reach their target, the foundation gives them a free lawn mower and string trimmer, plus a leaf blower.
The pandemic has also added a new dimension to his work. While he can no longer give a big hug to the people whose lawns he mows, Smith can be of service by dropping off much-needed supplies to those who are at risk and can’t go out.
The people whom Smith helps are obviously grateful to have someone bring them basic essentials as well as to have their lawn taken care of. “They know this, too, shall pass, and things will get better,” Smith said. So far the reaction to Smith’s enhanced lawn care and delivery has been enthusiastic among people sheltering at home.
As for the future, Smith has lots of ideas to expand on the work of the foundation, including another “50 States, 50 Yards” tour. Of course, Smith remains committed to showing veterans that they matter. “We need to help our veterans … we need to do more,” he told CNN. “They have sacrificed their lives so the least we can do is help them when they need it.”
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