5 people who inspired us in 2018 -- and the impact they continue to have

(CNN)Throughout the year, CNN's Impact Your World brought you stories of average people who've found extraordinary ways to help others. Their backgrounds and circumstances were different. But their motives were the same: to do good and inspire others.

We went back to see how some of these determined people -- and the good works they started -- are doing.
From the suburban mother who started a movement helping Detroit's indigent to a 4-year-old boy in a superhero cape feeding Birmingham's homeless, the stories are still inspirational. Their projects are still going strong and their combined spirit of service continues to make an impact.

The man who mowed lawns for vets and the disabled in 50 states

Rodney Smith Jr. is traveling across the country dressed as Santa Claus and spreading Christmas cheer to the homeless population.
Last summer, Rodney Smith Jr. set out to voluntary mow 50 lawns in 50 states -- and help the elderly, the disabled, single moms and veterans along the way.
When news of his foundation, Raising Men Lawn Care Service, spread through social media, donations poured in, giving Smith the opportunity to expand his mission.
At the start of the holiday season, Smith decided to dress as Santa Claus and surprise homeless people with gifts in every new city he visited.
"They can't believe Santa Claus is coming to them for Christmas," Smith told CNN from his most recent stop in Boston. "A lot of them out here are struggling. It's moving when you hear their stories. It touches me forever."
Two homeless men open presents they received from Rodney Smith Jr.
As part of his winter tour, Smith has been passing out blankets and backpacks stocked with supplies for the homeless. And he's performed a few Christmas miracles as he spread the cheer.
"People have donated so much, so I'm able to buy them whatever they want," he said.
In Idaho, he bought two men bus tickets so they could reunite with their family.
In Boston, he bought another person a few nights in a hotel room, including a much desired hot shower.
Smaller acts of kindness include a cup of hot coffee and a couple of cans of Mountain Dew.
"Seeing their faces light up," Smith said, is the most rewarding Christmas gift of all.
In 2019, Smith plans to embark on a "seven continents - seven lawns" campaign to continue spreading his message of service around the world.

The teen who provides jobs for the homeless

San Diego teen Kevin Barber (center) poses with his "Wheels of Change" crew.
In February, 17-year-old Kevin Barber -- with some financial help from his mom -- launched a pilot program in San Diego called "Wheels of Change." It pays the homeless $11.50 an hour to clean up the streets.
"Workers are so thankful for the opportunity to work... contribute to the community and make a little money to buy their personal items, or buy a bus pass for a job interview," Barber said.
"They even line up at 2 a.m. every morning 'Wheels of Change' operates, in order to have a chance to go out on the work crew!"
Grateful residents and store owners gather outside to cheer on the homeless participants, sometimes even buying them lunch. After every shift, the workers are paid their wage in cash, and then counseled on city services that might help them get off the street.
The crew manager, himself a former gang member, talks to the homeless workers about resources available to them.
The homeless are given money -- and access to city services -- when they work for "Wheels of Change."
For the participants, just getting a day's work can be life-changing, Kevin said. "One female crew member openly shared that she had been suicidal and was on top of Coronado Bridge ready to jump last week. Today, she was on our van headed to work, was incredibly grateful, and says she wants to be an example to others."
"Another homeless individual planned to earn money in the program so he could purchase hair clippers. He wants to use them to shave his head and his face so he can look better when he applies for a permanent job."
"Wheels of Change" started with just one vehicle. Less than a year in, the program now operates two vans.
Kevin's goal is to have both vans running five days a week, hiring 100 homeless people weekly. So far, his program has employed more than 800 homeless people -- many of them more than once.
Kevin hopes his local success can be replicated across the world. So far, representatives from 36 other cities have visited San Diego to learn about the program.

The principal who installed a laundromat in his school

Principal Akbar Cook shows a portion of the donated detergent sent to New Jersey's West Side High School to support their free laundry room.
When school started at West Side High School in September there was a new addition: a laundromat.
Principal Akbar Cook had learned that some of the students at his Newark, New Jersey, school were chronically absent because they were bullied over their dirty clothes. So Cook installed washers and dryers for students to use before and after school free of charge.
"After the story got out, donated laundry supplies rolled in from around the world," the principal beamed. "To receive such giving from places like Scotland and islands in the Pacific to help out our babies. And then Procter & Gamble got involved and sent us a thousand of everything for laundry. We now have two rooms full of detergent!"
He was initially unsure if the laundry machines would be used, but quickly realized the school needed to extend the laundromat's hours and bring in more staff. The machines were running constantly until 8 p.m. every day.
More importantly, school attendance has improved.
Cook holds an armful of donated laundry products.
Cook is already tackling the next obstacle to his students' learning.
"We have opened a free store for the students, providing toiletries, feminine products, toothbrushes, laundry bags and more," the principal said. "With so much generosity, we now have a school wish list on Amazon and Walmart to provide other necessities."
"We feel like we can really do something here," he added. "And that is the feeling we want our students to come to school with every day."

The suburban mom who brings donors and the needy together

Erica Guido (left) says starting her charity is the most rewarding thing she has ever done, next to being a mom.
Six days a week, a suburban mom drives her pickup truck to inner-city Detroit, dropping off donations and spreading good will.
Erica Guido is president and founder of "To Detroit, With Love."
"We turn houses into homes and neighbors into friends," she told CNN.
In a closed Facebook group, Guido shares needy families' wish-lists. People then offer whatever donations they have: beds, dining sets, clothes.
Guido or her volunteers pick up the donations and distribute them within the same day.
Volunteer Levi Lindsey loads furniture into Guido's pickup truck.