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Published on Oct 09, 2015 by Edgar Snyder

Snow Angels: Neighbors Helping Neighbors

snow angels

Each winter, over 100 volunteers in Allegheny County leave their homes, head out into their neighborhoods, and provide a crucial service to the elderly and people with disabilities. Those volunteers live all over Allegheny County – from the North Hills to Carnegie to Monroeville. They are doctors, lawyers, parents, and students. Some of them are as young as 12 and others are grandparents, but they all have one thing in common: they are Snow Angels.

A Little Bit of Help Goes a Long Way

If you're a property owner (and in some cases, a property renter) it's your responsibility to keep sidewalks and walkways free of snow and ice. For many people, this responsibility is an annoyance that comes with the winter season. For others, however, it is a true hardship and in some cases an impossible task.

That's where Snow Angels steps in. A part of Family Services of Western Pennsylvania, Snow Angels matches volunteers with people in their communities who need help with snow and ice removal during the winter. To receive snow shoveling services, residents must be over the age of 60 or have a disability.

The law says that snow must be removed within a certain window of time (in the city of Pittsburgh, it's 24 hours), but keeping walkways clear isn't just a matter of avoiding fines and penalties. For the elderly and those with disabilities, it's essential. According to Jamison Combs, Snow Angels' Program Support Coordinator, these groups of people typically rely on support services that regularly visit their homes, such as Meals on Wheels, nurses, and caretakers. The people providing those services need a clear path to walk. In fact, ACCESS transit, which many of Snow Angels' care recipients use, won't stop at houses with sidewalks that haven't been cleared.

Snow Angels volunteers commit to making sure this doesn't happen. Their simple act of shoveling and salting walkways makes a huge difference in keeping their neighbors connected to the outside world.

How to Get Involved

Snow Angels consistently receives more requests for shoveling services than it has volunteers, and their goal this year is to have an excess of volunteers ready to help out. We want them to reach that goal. That's why we've posted billboards and bus shelters throughout the city calling for those interested to sign up as volunteers. If you want to get involved, it's a simple process:

  • If you're interested in becoming a Snow Angel, CLICK HERE.
  • If you're part of a group or organization that would like to volunteer, call 412-863-5939.
  • Volunteers undergo a short, online training.
  • Once they've been matched to a care receiver, volunteers are expected to shovel anytime there's a ½ inch of snow or more and to check in with their receiver regularly.
  • Shovels and salt are provided, so all you have to do is show up.

Working Together to Keep Everyone Safe

We're proud to work with Snow Angels, and hope that their mission and reach continue to grow. It's wonderful to be part of a city where so many people are dedicated to helping one another in times of need.

We're also here if you've been injured and need help. We're available 24/7, so don't hesitate to get in touch.

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