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'Angels' clear sidewalks for city residents

February 15, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - Wade Shaffer emphasizes that he knows he is fortunate to be in good health.

That's why on Wednesday, as area children enjoyed a day off from school, the 77-year-old Maugansville resident was outside shoveling snow.

"Well, I'm fortunate enough to have good health so I can do it, and I'd like to do it as long as I can," said Shaffer, who volunteers as part of a City of Hagerstown volunteer shoveling program.

Cindy Blackstock, community development coordinator for the City Hagerstown, said Wednesday that about a dozen people have volunteered to shovel the sidewalks of property owners who are unable to clear their own properties, as required by the city.

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Hagerstown property owners can face fines if they do not shovel their sidewalks. Owners of property within the city's business district must clear out the properties within four hours of a storm's end; owners of property elsewhere have 10 hours.

Though she said the volunteers, whom she calls "snow angels," so far have been able to meet the needs of people who meet certain eligibility requirements, Blackstock said she believes demand for the program will grow.

On Wednesday, volunteers shoveled between six and a dozen sidewalks, Blackstock said.

"Again, we do understand the importance of getting the sidewalks clear, but we certainly don't want anyone to endanger their health to get that done," Blackstock said.

Cindy Brown, director of programs at Otterbein United Methodist Church on East Franklin Street, said she helped coordinate the activities of 10 volunteer shovelers from the church.

The church got involved to help residents who were unable to comply with the city's rules about shoveling, Brown said.

"Initially, we were disturbed, and I guess this was three years ago, when there were elderly folks who really could not clear the snow and ice, and they were penalized," Brown said.

Like Shaffer, Tom Crawford said he and his wife, Carrie, are members of the church's snow-shoveling crew.

Crawford said he believes the church needs to be involved in its community. And, he said, he enjoys shoveling.

"It's a little bit of physical exercise, and you know, you're helping somebody out, and it makes you feel good," said Crawford, who teaches math at Hagerstown Community College, which was closed Wednesday.

Though he said he helped shovel out two residences, Crawford confessed Wednesday afternoon that he was not quite done at his Funkstown home.

"Umm, still working on it," Crawford said, when asked how his own shoveling was going.

Otterbein United Methodist Church's work was just beginning Wednesday. Brown said she and other church members are signed up to volunteer this week at the REACH shelter.




Snow angels



A snow-shoveling program that pairs volunteers with residents who need help clearing their sidewalks is open to more participants, said Cindy Blackstock, community development coordinator for the City of Hagerstown.

To be eligible for help, residents must be physically unable to shovel themselves and financially unable to pay anyone else for the work, Blackstock said. People who have friends, family members or other acquaintances who are able to do the work are not eligible, she said.

People who are interested in asking for help or volunteering may call Blackstock at 301-739-8577, ext. 191.

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