Volunteers and local youth cut lawns for free for the elderly, disabled veterans and single moms

Rodney Smith Jr. of Huntsville, Alabama, was driving home one day during the summer of 2015 and saw an elderly man struggling to cut his lawn.  Rodney stopped to help and an idea was born.

Rodney began recruiting local youths to help, and his group of kid volunteers currently numbers over 60.  They cut lawns for free for the elderly, disabled veterans, and single moms.  The response has been overwhelming from both the youth who participate in the program, and those who receive the free lawn services.  “The kids are so excited, they call and say ‘please save my spot this weekend,’ ” says Rodney.   Donations have paid for gas, and the company, Briggs and Stratton, has contributed lawnmowers and weed eaters.

Rodney views his mission as being a mentor to young men and women, ages 7 to 17, and to encourage kids to get out there and give back to their community.  Making a difference in one's community can take a variety of forms, even if means simply mowing an elderly person’s lawn for free!


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2017 Janitor of the Year inspires students and faculty

Ted Qualli, the 66-year-old janitor at Newtown Elementary School, knows the names of every one of the school’s 850 students.  Of course he is the first person to arrive in the morning and the last person to leave at night.  But he does much more than cleaning classrooms.  He wears his old Air Force uniform on Veterans Day and talks to kids about his service.  He grows countless plants and gives them out to the staff and student body.  Most importantly, he talks with the kids about life and teaches them that some of the most important things you learn, you won’t find in a book.  He explains to the kids:  “You got to listen.  You listen, everybody has a message that they're trying to tell you.”

“He's the guy that’s unsung.  He’s the guy that everybody knows is the go-to person.  He’s the guy that keeps the ship afloat,” says principal Kevin King.  As one student puts it:  “He does all this stuff, and he does it with a smile on his face.”  A parent expresses her appreciation: “They just don't make them that way anymore.  He is just absolutely one of the most amazing human beings on this planet.”

Among over 1,200 nominees nationwide, Ted has been selected the 2017 Janitor of the Year.  “I’m so overwhelmed and I just can’t believe that it happened,” said Ted, fighting back tears.  “I just can't believe that people think that much of me.”

The town of Newtown declared a Ted Qualli Day in his honor.  The parent-teacher moms sang him a song at the announcement of his award.  He received a $5000 cash prize from the Cintas Corporation.  And the kids, well, they just love him.


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Heartwarming gesture to wife of deployed soldier becomes internet hit

I'd like to share with you a great act of kindness by a civilian outside of Boston. 
Samantha Ford, a military wife and a mother of two, was at a Dunkin Donuts, when she noticed a note and $40 cash on her windshield. 
The note read, "I noticed the sticker on the back of your car", referring to a "Half my Heart is in Afghanistan" bumper sticker.  "Take your hero out to dinner when he comes home.  Thank you both for serving. Him deployed and you for waiting." Signed "United States veteran" and "God Bless". 
Samantha shared it on Facebook, and the picture went viral. 
Hopefully stories like this one will inspire more people to thank and support our Service members and their families for their commitment to keeping us safe.  Thank you from the Good World News Family.
Good Day and may the Good News be yours,
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