Man giving gifts to homeless people in every state stops in Phoenix

Nov 29, 2018, 1:15 PM

PHOENIX – The big-hearted Alabama man who stopped in Phoenix this summer to do good deeds with his lawn mower headed back to the Valley on Thursday to spread holiday cheer to the homeless population.

This week, Rodney Smith Jr. launched his Hope for the Holidays road trip with the intention of delivering hot meals, supplies and gifts to at least two homeless people in each state before Christmas.

“I want to not only help the people I meet, but to inspire others to do help the homeless by tearing away stigmas and other stereotypes often associated with being homeless,” Smith wrote on the Hope for the Holidays website.

“If people realize that even small gestures for just a couple people will make a difference, we can change the world.”

On Thursday morning, Smith posted a photo of himself, wearing a Santa outfit, in front of an Arizona sign near the state’s border with New Mexico.

He asked his followers – more than 113,000 on Facebook, 68,000 on Twitter and 24,000 on Instagram – where he could find members of Phoenix’s homeless community.

He’s been posting photos and video of his encounters during the tour, which started Monday with stops in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. He also went to Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico before coming to Arizona.

A little after noon Thursday, he’d posted his first photos from Phoenix with a woman named Lindsey, who’s been homeless for two years.

Smith initially had planned to come to Phoenix on Friday, according to a posted route, but the overachieving do-gooder already is ahead of schedule.

Smith first gained attention with his Raising Men Lawn Care Service, which provides free lawn care to the physically challenged, single moms, veterans and senior citizens.

Earlier this year he made his way around the country on what he called a 50 States/50 Lawns campaign, which brought him to Phoenix in June.

The goal of that tour was to inspire young people to follow Smith’s example and mow 50 yards for people in need of help.

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Man giving gifts to homeless people in every state stops in Phoenix