Nationwide lawn mowing challenge encourages youth to cut grass for those in need

Phillip Palmer Image
Friday, June 16, 2023
Lawn mowing challenge encourages youth to cut grass for those in need
One nonprofit is helping people in need one lawn at a time, and it's encouraged young people to mow lawns for the elderly, disabled or veterans for free.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Living on a fixed income can create hard choices, and with prices on the rise, some people might have to give up lawn service to make ends meet.

But one nonprofit organization is helping people in need, one lawn at a time.

Raising Men and Women Lawn Care Service uses the energy of young people to help those who need it most. Children between 8-17, like Andrew in Ontario, mow lawns for the elderly, single parents, disabled or veterans for free.

Founder Rodney Smith Jr. says the idea came to him when he saw a neighbor struggling to mow the lawn.

"When I first started the organization I really didn't know what I was doing. I hated mowing lawns, but God took something I disliked and turned it into something I love to do," Smith said. "And I get a chance to do it every single day for free. But my goal is to encourage kids to get out there and help those in need."

From his home in Huntsville, Alabama, Smith has an Instagram following of over 94,000 people. Many of them are kids like Andrew and his friend Aaron, who have accepted the 50-Yard Challenge: mow 50 lawns and after every 10, you receive a different colored shirt, but each lawn must be mowed for free for someone in need of help.

"When we mow for them, and we tell them that we're mowing for them, it just makes their day because some of them aren't capable of doing it for themselves," 13-year-old Andrew said. "It just makes them really happy."

More than 4,500 kids around the country participate, girls and boys alike. Ryan Buchanan mowed his 50th just last week and as promised, Smith drove to Temecula from Alabama to meet Ryan in person. Smith presented Ryan his final T-shirt, but also a new lawn mower, weed eater and blower.

"I feel like I have changed," Ryan said. "It helps me talk to other people that I'm not really comfortable with, haven't met before."

"I wish that more kids his age would reach out and do what he does on helping the neighborhood and being polite young gentlemen," Ryan's neighbor Jeannie said.

Over the last week, Smith has traveled to see about 12 kids and over nine states. That's thousands and thousands of miles, but as soon as another group hits 50, he's back on the road.

The 501(c)(3) nonprofit relies on donations and Smith to function in all 50 states, but the hope is to grow beyond what he can do as one man and thousands of well-meaning young people.

"Eventually have adults run chapters wherever they live and just keep expanding, expanding, expanding," Smith said. "Because it's not just mowing, we also rake leaves and snow shovel, so it's a year round activity where people can give back."