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It turns out that even as Floridians feel the grip of a tighter economy there are still some holding out a helping hand to their neighbors. The story of Andy Law and his efforts on behalf of Joseph Prudente, a man he had never met, is one of those lump-in-throat tales that give one a sense that all is not lost - humanity-wise, that is.

Prudente had been sent to jail without bail earlier this month essentially because he had allowed his lawn to turn brown. Now the idea that someone can end up in jail due to a parched lawn seems preposterous. But Prudente ignored nearly a year's worth of warnings by his Beacon Woods homeowners' association in Bayonet Point, a community in Pasco County. Then he ignored a court order and was held in contempt. Prudente's excuse was that he could barely afford to pay his mortgage, never mind fixing his lawn. It seems a fairly reasonable plea in these times.

When Law, a handyman in Hudson and former Marine, read about Prudente's predicament, he was outraged. Then he set to work making things right.

Law gathered people to help resod the lawn; companies donated the sod; someone stopped by to fix the sprinklers; others dropped by checks. It must have felt like an old-fashioned barn-raising. But here, the resulting green lawn bought a man's freedom.

Mahatma Gandhi said, "We must be the change we wish to see." That is something Prudente's many good neighbors know all about already.