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Reasons to Smile: Meet the 11-year-old mowing machine from Dallas who’s putting the 'care' back in lawn care

You might just say a fifth grader from the Dallas area is on the cutting edge when it comes to kindness in our area. He’s the focus of today’s Reasons to Smile.

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — Lawncare is heating up just like the weather. And if you’re in the Dallas area, you may have even spotted 11-year-old Isaac Olmsted. He came across a challenge on social media and used it as a way to spread smiles, all by mowing one lawn at a time.

He’s the 11-year-old from Luzerne County who’s got a green thumb and a heart bigger than he is. Since last June, Isaac Olmsted has mowed dozens of lawns in the Dallas area for free for some special customers. 

"Elderly people, veterans, and disabled people," Olmsted said. 

Newswatch 16's Ryan Leckey asked Isaac why this project was important to him.

"Because I don't think they can get it [lawncare] done as easily," Olmsted said.

Isaac’s work was inspired by something he came across on social media called the “50-yard challenge," a call to help others by mowing 50 lawns. The project is led by a man from Alabama, Rodney Smith Jr. 

Rodney spearheads the nonprofit “Raising Men and Women Lawn Care Service.” The goal is to teach kids seven to 17 about the importance of giving back to their community, mowing one lawn at a time.

"So with the pandemic, we had a lot of kids sign up, a lot of kids being home from school," Smith Jr. said.

The idea turned into reality years ago for Rodney when he started mowing lawns for free.

"It first started back in 2015 when I came across an elderly man. It looked like he was struggling. So I pulled over and helped them out. And that night, I just decided to start doing free lawns for the elderly, disabled, single parents, and veterans here in Huntsville, Alabama," Smith Jr. said.

These acts of kindness took off, eventually leading Rodney to visit all 50 states, mowing lawns for free to help people in need.

Fast forward to today. Rodney says his “50-yard challenge” includes more than 1,000 kids nationwide and others in eight different countries.

As a reward for their hard work that may also involve shoveling driveways for free in the wintertime, Rodney pays the youngsters a visit—just like he did recently with Isaac. And Rodney brought along some donated surprises to help this fifth-grader in the Dallas School district continue his good deeds.

"It was really cool. When he pulled up, he gave me a lawnmower, a leaf blower, and weed whacker. And I was not expecting at all to come that fast," Olmsted said.

Smith Jr. said it was great to finally meet Isaac.

Newswatch 16's Ryan Leckey asked Smith Jr. if Isaac needed a lawn care tutorial when they met. 

"Isaac was well prepared; he knows his stuff," Smith Jr. said.

Isaac told Newswatch 16's Ryan Leckey people have really appreciated his project and thanked him. 

And with landscaping season in full swing, this 5th-grade mowing machine plans to continue his charity work in the Dallas area as part of Rodney’s “100-yard challenge.” It’s Isaac’s way of putting the care in lawn care.

All of the supplies Rodney gives to kids around the world have been donated.

You can view the nonprofit’s wish list and learn more about Raising Men and Women Lawn Care Service in case your kid wants to get involved.