HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - When an Alabama man whose own generosity made national headlines realized he wouldn't be able to pay his college tuition, friends and strangers alike stepped up to help.
Since 2016, Rodney Smith Jr. has mowed one lawn at a time to help the elderly, disabled, veterans, and single moms – free of charge. Along the journey of giving back to his community in Huntsville, the Raising Men Lawn Care Service was born.
"We mentor kids ages 7 to 17 and we show them the importance of giving back to their community by cutting lawns for free for the elderly, disabled, single mothers, and veterans," Smith Jr. told WHNT.
He's even inspired kids across the country to take the challenge to help those in the summer heat.
"I tell people all the time, cutting lawns was never something that I liked growing up. But it's crazy how God works. He took something that I dislike and turned it into something I now love to do."
Smith Jr. reached out to the same people he's been helping, and those who support him and now the community is giving back to him, in a big way.
"It's good to give back, love thy neighbor, help thy neighbor," said Smith Jr. That humble attitude had the community willing to help him when he needed it most.
Rodney is a student, working towards his master's at Alabama A & M University. Normally, he works during the summers in Bermuda to supplement his income for tuition. This year he took his mission on a cross-country tour, mowing a lawn in every state.
When he returned, he realized he had a problem – a $28,000 tuition bill. So, he turned to his 57,000 supporters on Facebook. "I asked people for a dollar." A few dollars quickly grew like weeds – into thousands. "The response was overwhelming."
On Tuesday afternoon, nearly $19,000 had been donated in less than 48 hours to his GoFundMe account.
"People that don't even have the money were willing to donate to my cause to see me be successful," Smith said, adding that he was stunned at how the money poured in.
An adopted community he's given everything to, is now giving back to him. "I'm so thankful and grateful to everybody. And I invited everyone to my graduation in 2018."