Pay It Forward – Steelville man grows, gives away free vegetables to community

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

STEELVILLE, Mo. – Keeping his neighbors fed in the summer and warm in the winter is the mission of a 79-year-old Don Benton of Steelville.

Benton is our First Bank Pay It Forward recipient this month. Fox 2's Dan Gray was in Steelville as Don's daughter, Gayle Rice, surprised him with the award.

"Dad, I just wanted to tell you that on behalf of Fox 2 News and First Bank, we'd like to present you with $500 to help you with your community work here in Steelville, dad," Gayle said.

Benton is the go-to guy to help anyone in Steelville, giving away free vegetables he grows using his own money and equipment. Since his wife died six years ago, Benton has devoted his life to serving others.

"He's always been a man of integrity, but since mom died he's put all of his energy into helping other people in the community and he just does everything for everybody,” Gayle said. “He cuts wood, he tills people’s garden, he cuts their grass, he takes care of their animals; he does everything."

At age 79, Benton isn't slowing down, but he does run into challenges now and then.

"I had beautiful corn and a good set of beans. Now that row there I put in about four weeks ago and a groundhog got into it,” he said. “I'm waiting for cold weather to hit so I can get back in the woods and run my chainsaw and cut wood.”

Benton said he takes it all in stride because he loves seeing people smile when he helps them.

"I get a kick out of doing things for people it makes walk a little bit proud when I walk away from them, yeah; yeah, I enjoy it. That's my life," Benton said.

The Pay It Forward Award is brought to you by First Bank. If you would like to nominate a deserving person for the award go to and look for the Pay it Forward page.