RICHMOND, Va. -- A man who travels the country mowing lawns for people in need returned to Richmond for second time this year on Saturday.
Rodney Smith Jr. has been traveling state by state mowing lawns with police officers as part of his new Mowing with Cops Tour.
Richmond Police officers Ed Costley and Chris Saunders used Smith's decorated lawn mower that looks like a police cruiser complete with working red and blue lights to mow Mrs. Fountains' lawn on Richmond's Northside.
The trio cut the grass for Mrs. Fountains, who Smith said was "one of the sweetest ladies you will ever meet."
"After getting done with Mrs. Fountains lawn she came out and talked to us," Smith noted. "She was married for 52 years. Her Husband who was a preacher passed away three years ago. She told us stories about him. She misses him dearly."
The officers told Smith one of the biggest challenges of the job is staying up late.
"Six p.m. to 5:30 a.m.," Saunders said. "You get used to it."
The officers said they "stay busy non-stop" during their shift.
The pair, who have been on the force for more than four years, said community engagement is one of their favorite aspects of the job.
"I'd say doing stuff like this," Costley said. "Genuinely helping the community."
“And helping the best people on the worst days,” Saunders added.
Smith said he wanted to be a police officer growing up, so he is doing this to thank police for their service as well as to rally the community around those who serve and protect.
This latest way he is giving back is part of his Raising Men Lawn Care Service foundation, in which he also provides free lawn care to the elderly and disabled.
“It just started to innocently. I didn’t expect to see kids out here mowing laws as part of the program,” Smith said. “When I was young, I just disliked mowing lawns, but God took something I disliked and turned it into something. And now I’m doing it every single day for free.”
Smith also stopped in Richmond in late May offering to mow lawns for military veterans and widows
He said he cuts grass across the country in hopes of inspiring children around the country to get involved in community service.
“It’s about letting them [kids] know that no matter how young they are, how old they are, they can make a difference, and it doesn’t have to be with a lawnmower,” he told CNN in 2018. “They [kids] can make a difference one lawn at a time.”
Which of Virginia's iconic foods do you think Smith should try? He and the officers said they were not fans of peanut soup.