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Blessed are the leaf rakers: Brothers offer free help to local elderly homeowners

WORTHINGTON -- When Claudia Rodriguez recently learned her father lost his job in a community more than an hour away from here, she feared for her elderly parents and their ability to cope without any income.

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Brothers Carlos (left) and Fernando Rodriguez of Worthington posted a message on social media last week offering to rake leaves for elderly residents in the community. Though the post generated more than 500 likes and nearly 100 comments, only one person took them up on the offer. They are hoping to hear from other elderly people who would like their leaves raked up, and they won't take any money for doing it. (Julie Buntjer/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON - When Claudia Rodriguez recently learned her father lost his job in a community more than an hour away from here, she feared for her elderly parents and their ability to cope without any income.

She did the one thing she could do at the time - she prayed for them.

A member of Solid Rock Assembly, Claudia went to her church’s Thursday evening prayer session and left with an idea to help others.

“My mom just started thinking, if her parents are struggling like this, there must be other people who are struggling as much,” said Claudia’s son, Carlos Rodriguez. “She just came up with the idea that maybe we should go out and help other people - help out in the little things and maybe take a few things off (our elderly neighbor’s) backs.”

Claudia broached her two teenage sons, Carlos and Fernando - a senior and freshman, respectively, at Worthington High School - about her idea to help others.

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“She texted both of us and we were just absolutely for it,” said Carlos, admitting that his mom was surprised by their immediate willingness. “It’s good to help other people when they are struggling.”

The first step the teens took was to get their message out on social media. They posted “Free leaves clean-up for the elderly” on the Worthington Area Swap Site on Facebook, with the following advertisement: “My brother and I are willing to clean up leaves for the elderly for free. I just believe that they shouldn’t have to do the work if we have so many teens that can do it for them. You guys can contact us via pm (private message). Thank you and God Bless.”

Carlos said he only meant to help people. What he didn’t expect was the reaction of others. A week after making the offer on Facebook, the post received more than 575 reactions (likes, loves and wows) and more than 60 comments - many from individuals offering words of encouragement and thanks for the brothers’ volunteerism.

“I thought, ‘Wow, just after a small act of kindness, even just talking about it, I can attract so many people,’” Carlos said. “I felt this was … a good thing to do - something that Christ was telling us we should do.”

So far, only one person has taken the teens up on their offer. Carlos and Fernando, along with their parents, Claudia and Carlos Sr., raked leaves and cut down branches on Sunday afternoon for one local widower who recently had open heart surgery. He simply wasn’t able to take care of the leaves that piled up on the lawn.

By the time the family finished, they had filled 26 large, black plastic bags with leaves.

“Even though we work for free, we don’t act like we’re working for free - we work hard,” said Fernando. “We get paid by their joy - that’s the best we could get.”

“We’re just here to help every single person,” added Carlos. “It’s just an amazing way to spend time with our own family and bless other people.”

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The Rodriguez brothers are hoping more elderly people in town will contact them for free leaf-raking service. They also have an older brother, Miguel, and two younger sisters, Gianella, 12, and Aaliyah, 9, who are willing to help out if they get overwhelmed by requests.

Carlos can be reached at 370-2757, while Fernando can be reached at 370-2747.

  

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Brothers Carlos (left) and Fernando Rodriguez rakes leaves into a pile outside a Worthington home after school Wednesday. (Julie Buntjer/Daily Globe)

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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