A Safety Harbor man who landscapes for a living and is currently homeless recently got help for his livelihood in a big way thanks to the generosity of customers and strangers.
- Fred Smith pushed his electric lawnmower from job to job until it broke
- Customer's Facebook post about Scott's plight inspires huge response
- Donations include lawnmower, weed whacker, leaf blower
For Fred Smith, business is booming.
“I’m picking up more as this is happening,” he said.
The Safety Harbor man landscapes yards for a living. He said he has about 15 customers.
He’s also homeless and doesn’t have a car. He would push his electric lawnmower from yard to yard, until it broke. He borrowed a friend’s lawnmower so he could continue to work, but started saving up to replace his old one.
“He just happened to mention, ‘I’ve saved up $70 and I’m going to get my own lawnmower,’” said Scott Johnson, one of Smith’s customers. “He wasn’t saying it as if you can help me get a lawnmower.”
Smith wasn’t asking for help, but Johnson put up a post on Facebook, asking if anyone had any lawn equipment for sale.
“If I could find one cheaply enough,” he said. “I was just going to buy it and give it to him.”
The response was overwhelming. Offers of lawn equipment, clothes and money came pouring in.
“The people in these groups, just everyone saw what Fred was trying to do to improve himself and said ‘we've got to help this guy,’” said Johnson
Thanks to that Facebook post, Johnson was able to get Smith his own lawnmower, weed whacker and leaf blower. The community also got him a gift card to help pay for gas.
“This is a real blessing,” Scott said. “I’m very happy.”
The generosity didn’t stop there. There is now a GoFundMe account to help Smith get his own place. (This Gofundme.com site is not managed by Bay News 9/News 13. For more information on how the site works and the rules visit http://www.gofundme.com/safety)
“I have never had this happen to me, so with the years I’ve been in the situation that I’m in, something like this to happen, it’s overwhelming,” Smith said. “I know there’s a lot of nice people in the world, but I never thought it could happen to me.”
Smith has a checkered past with drugs and law enforcement. He said that is all behind him, and he wants a chance to live his life the right way.
“I’m just hoping I can turn this around, get my life straight,” he said. “Start living a normal life.”
Johnson said he feels incredibly blessed to be part of something that means so much to Smith.
“It’s not something we have to do, it’s something we get to do,” he said. “Fred is just so grateful and he’s not looking for a handout, he’s just looking for someone to give him the tools to help himself.”
Smith already has customers lined up to get their yards spruced up.
“I’m really excited for this week to come because I got some yards to cut,” he said.