Mowing lawns for free, man makes 50-state tour - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Mowing lawns for free, man makes 50-state tour

Rodney Smith Jr. flew all the way from Alabama to Alaska to mow a yard. (Source: KTUU/CNN) Rodney Smith Jr. flew all the way from Alabama to Alaska to mow a yard. (Source: KTUU/CNN)

ANCHORAGE, AK (KTUU/CNN) - Sometimes offering just a little help can have big results.

A young man is visiting to spread a message about helping others. He's doing it by showing how to care through lawn care.

Rodney Smith Jr. flew all the way from Alabama to Alaska to mow a yard.

Smith does a lot of mowing and a lot of traveling to cut grass.

Up until now, he's been to every state except Alaska and Hawaii, and it seems fitting that Alaska, the 49th state, is his 49th stop.

"It's a very beautiful place, but it takes a long time to get here," he said.

Why all the cross-country grass mowing? A video on his website explains his motivation.

"I'm from the island of Bermuda. On Bermuda, everybody is friendly. You know, they give back when they can, and that's what drives me to help people," Smith said.

Smith is now a graduate student in Huntsville, AL. Two years ago, he began a mission with a lawn mower to help and give back.

"Back in 2015, I saw an elderly man outside cutting his grass, and it looked like he was struggling, and from that day, I decided I wanted to cut grass free for the elderly, disabled, single-parent mothers and veterans."

That single act of kindness grew faster than grass in the sunshine. Smith started a nonprofit organization called Raising Men Lawn Care Service.

"We have kids nationwide that are taking part in this," he said.

The kids cut grass to help those who need a hand.

"You know, at first some kids come to the program because their parents want them to, but once they start, they're calling us saying they want to make a difference in their community, and that's a beautiful thing to see. They'd rather be outside cutting grass instead of playing video games," Smith said.

The lawn care service has opened eight chapters across the country, and 120 kids have joined.

"I hope that they can, you know, step up, and if they see some that's in need, not just with cutting lawns, they just step up and help that person," Smith said.

To motivate them, he started his "50 yard challenge." The kids earn a different colored shirt each time they cut 10 more yards.

"We start off with a white shirt. It's like the karate system. You get a black shirt once you reach 50 lawns," Smith said.

When kids mow 50 yards, they get a visit from Smith, and their family gets a new lawnmower, free.

Vonda Roark-Martinez and her husband Andrew are disabled veterans. A Facebook friend in the lower 48 told her that Smith was looking for a yard to cut in Alaska to help complete his trip.

"So I posted on his Facebook page, and someone contacted me," Roark-Martinez said. "And this all happened on Monday, and then Tuesday he was here. He arrived. You have one young man who has has struck out and really started this process to bring others into it and build from there. I think it's really great."

Smith will fly off Thursday to Hawaii for the final stop of his 50-state tour.

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