CENTERVILLE — Jodie McCoy, realtor of Hometown Realty, said she always has a passion for helping people, whether it is helping someone find their dream home or just making someone smile.

Recently she made her lifelong friend Dennis Roby smile when she surprised him with a pop can drive for his 49th birthday. Roby liked to collect cans and earn money that way, so McCoy figured she would ask Centerville and Albia residents if they could donate for his birthday.

McCoy called Heather Hindman, owner of Brees Rest Home, asking if Roby (who lives there) could have his birthday bash there. Hindman agreed.

Cans filled McCoy’s car. Michael Smead, a local firefighter and friend of Roby’s, helped lift the cans. Approximately 1,900 cans were picked up and delivered to Jim & Charlie’s Affiliated Foods in Albia for redemption.

Roby was surprised and overcome with joy once he saw the cans. “Jodie you are never gonna believe what is going on. There are cans showing up everywhere for my birthday,” Roby said to McCoy over a phone call.

Kim Exline, one of McCoy’s real estate clients, loved how the surprise brought Roby lots of excitement. “It was so much fun seeing Dennis so excited,” she said. “He even called me ‘honey.’”

Jami Shilling also loved seeing Roby’s happiness and appreciated McCoy’s efforts. “We never know what Jodie is up to, but when she sets her mind to do something to benefit others she gets it done,” she said.

In reflecting on the surprise McCoy threw for Roby, she said, she never expected this much support. “You know purely it was just my idea and then it just took off like a wildflower,” she said.

“I thought some people would, but I had no idea that we would have that many cans,” McCoy added. “That blew me away … I never dreamed that people in Centerville would want to donate, and my clients they donated, too.”

McCoy said Roby’s surprise brought a sense of togetherness within the community. It was a great opportunity to highlight who Roby is.

“The community loves Dennis,” she said. “He is an icon. His smile is infectious to everyone he meets as he delivers the newspapers. I want to personally thank everyone who provided a special gift to a special man. This was a great example of what our communities are capable of doing to share kindness during tough times. Through the pandemic we all need to stop and be caring and think about how we can benefit others and try to stay positive through this whole process.”

Chiara Romero can be reached at

Chiara Romero can be reached at

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