We have a family in our neighborhood. The patriarch is old and not in good health. He lives with his son, his daughter, her husband and the daughter’s two kids.
They have an immense trampoline in their tiny back yard. Only a few parents allow their kids to jump on the trampoline. The family spends a lot of time in the summer sitting on the retaining wall or the porch, watching the neighborhood. They don’t just watch it go by though, they wave and say hi and smile. The greeting isn’t always warmly returned.
The older boy (Todd) graduated from high school and usually works the State Fair and some maintenance jobs for the city during the summer. He’s heavy and outgoing in a kind of earnest way. This winter he’s been shoveling for some money.
A neighbor friend of mine got an idea which he brought up during one of our regular (unscheduled, but some how regular) card games. “That kid wants to work. He’s got nothing to do in the winter. I’m sure he’d like some money too. What if we all chipped in and bought him a snow blower? He could get more done faster and he could pay back the loan by doing their snow clearing. ”
It was one of a million ideas that we’ve thrown against the wall, but this one stuck for some reason. Part of it might have been that I knew someone who was pretty down on their luck and needed to get rid of a snowblower in exchange for cash. We got a good deal. Andy bought new paddles and spent a couple miserable hours putting them on to get the thing in good working order. Our initial investment was about $200.00.
We put the idea out to the larger neighborhood group and it was incredibly well received. In the end 18 neighbors donated money. They each donated 15 dollars. We had enough money to pay for the machine and parts, plus money left over to buy a gas card for Todd. I made a list of who donated and their addresses. We had money left over so I bought a fuel card from Super America.
In the meantime, our buddy Gary went to talk to Todd and see if he was interested in this deal: He’d get the machine and the gas card. To pay back the “loan” he would do the front walk of everyone on the list once (across the sidewalk and up the front walk to their door). After that, he’d be free to hunt customers or sit on his butt. It would be his enterprise. Todd thought it sounded like a pretty good idea.
Today is the first day we’ve had real snow since the kid got his snow thrower. I’m really pulling for him. I’ll let you know how it goes with this project.
Update number One:
Turns out Todd is out of town on the day of the first snow. Had to update the hood about that. After sending that email out, Todd’s mom and her husband came around with shovels. They wanted to get going on getting Todd’s stuff done while he was out of town.