I seriously doubt facebook was around back when this person was in school.
And, how do you mow 15 lawns with no transport, and the people around you are too poor to even have a lawn, let alone have people mow their lawns for them? Hell, where could he even get the lawnmower in the first place?
And, 2000 cans collected is a noble (and green!) act, but there are states where they'll give a big fat nothing for recycling; in fact, the home state of Duke University (NC, USA) doesn't offer money for aluminum like up North, unless you're willing to collect a pound of it and sell it for 20 cents. I guess he could move to another state to get better recycling prices, but then there's moving costs.
Sometimes being poor sucks, and there's NOTHING you can do. Not saying his case was completely hopeless, but it's easy to find solutions when there are zero consequences.