ROSEVILLE, Calif. (KTXL) – A simple gesture of kindness that blossomed into a national movement has inspired a 12-year-old in Roseville to do the same.
Rodney Smith Jr. explains in a video on Twitter how the movement began.
“My name is Rodney Smith Jr. and I’m the founder of Raising Men Lawn Care Service,” Smith Jr. said. “Raising Men Lawn Care Service started back in 2015. I was leaving school one day and I came across this elderly man outside mowing his lawn and he looked like he was struggling. So, I pulled over and helped him out.”
That night, Smith Jr. decided he would start mowing lawns for more people who could use a helping hand.
After his 100th lawn, he founded Raising Men Lawn Care Service, encouraging kids ages 7 to 17 to give back to their communities in the same way.
“And once they mow 50, I will drive to wherever they are in the United States. I will do lawns with them and I will also give them a brand new mower, weed eater and blower for finishing this 50-yard challenge,” Smith Jr. explained.
That’s what brought Smith Jr. to Roseville Monday morning. He went to congratulate and reward 12-year-old Naji Thomas for his 50th lawn mowed for free.
“It was really great. He was a fun guy,” Thomas told FOX40.
FOX40 asked how it made Thomas feel to do this while not expecting anything in return.
“Heartwarming. It was, yeah, it was a great thing to do and it made me feel great,” Thomas answered.
Thomas had some words of encouragement for other young people thinking of giving their time in their communities.
“I would say do as much as you can because people may not have the benefits that you do. They can’t do stuff that you can do sometimes. So always try and help in your own way, even if it’s mowing a lawn or, you know, giving someone some food,” Thomas said.
Thomas’ mother, Sheraya Jordan, said she was so impressed with what Smith Jr. started and proud of what her son has learned and accomplished through it.
“I saw my son achieve something. He had a goal, he went after it and he achieved it,” she told FOX40.
“It’s what we need. We need some good,” she continued. “We need heartfelt stories. We need to see that people are coming together and giving back, and that sort of thing. And he does that and he’s showing kids that they can do it too.”
FOX40 caught up with Smith Jr. over FaceTime on a break from his drive between California and Texas where he’ll be visiting another 50-yard challenge finisher.
“It just shows that, you know, our future is in good hands,” Smith Jr. said.
Smith Jr. said in his journey from state to state, he sees how the people of this country are more united than divided. The story of his life is something Smith Jr. said he never imagined, but he is so very grateful for the way it’s turning out.
“I couldn’t imagine. But you know, God already had it planned out I believe,” Smith Jr. said. “And it’s like a book, you know, just got to read the next chapter or the next page to see what else is in store for you. So, that’s what I’m doing and every time something new is happening give thanks to God.”