Snow Angels spread wings for seniors

Some seniors have been fortunate enough to meet up with angels on their sidewalks this month.

Jason Utz and Kelli Gustafson work their way along a sidewalk along Addington Drive on a snowy evening.

Some seniors have been fortunate enough to meet up with angels on their sidewalks this month.

After a fresh dumping of snow, these tuque-wearing angels have emerged to tackle one of winter’s most annoying tasks.

Snow Angels ­— a volunteer program where everyone is encouraged to be neighbourly when it comes to snow shovelling — have formed in Red Deer.

Earlier this month, the City of Red Deer joined forces with Youth Voice and the Golden Circle to help seniors in need of a hand.

Citizens can call the Golden Circle to offer help with snow shovelling that day. December has brought some big snowfalls this year. A group of students is participating in the Snow Angels program.

Once classes are done at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School, Kelli Gustafson is raring to put her biceps to work.

The pint-sized 17-year-old says once the crew gets going, it’s a lot of fun. “We kind of work in an assembly line. We usually have one person who works ahead with an ice scraper,” said Gustafson.

“And then two or three come behind with shovels . . . sometimes we end up playing in the snow in the end.”

After about 10 minutes at one address, they move onto the next. They shovel snow for a two-hour period, from 4 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

“It’s so nice to see when the seniors come out and they are so grateful,” said Gustafson. “You feel like you accomplished something, even something really small.”

Hazel Selstrom still shovels her own sidewalks outside her Riverside Meadows home, but at age 88, the job isn’t so easy anymore.

It’s important to get the job done right away after a snowfall because numerous people walk near her place to get to a nearby professional building.

Selstrom was pleased to get a break, thanks to the Angels. And she was impressed.

“I like a good job,” Selstrom said. “It’s got to look good after they are done.”

Bailie Davidson, 16, a Grade 11 student at Hunting Hills High School, finds volunteering as a Snow Angel rewarding.

“It’s good to know you are doing something good for them because they can get ticketed for (not clearing the sidewalk),” Davidson said.

She also enjoys hanging out with friends from Youth Voice, a panel of a dozen youth that advises the City of Red Deer on bullying, curfew and other youth issues. The group also volunteers with various agencies and as one project, performed random acts of kindness.

“Youth do want to be involved in the community,” added Gustafson.

Linda Healing, community facilitator for the city’s Social Planning Department, said Youth Voice is piloting the program and will re-evaluate it today.

Gustafson and Davidson said they’d be game for Youth Voice to continue with Snow Angels.

“This was intended to be a short-term pilot that the youth were doing for seniors referred by the Golden Circle,” Healing said. “The bigger goal was to encourage all people in Red Deer to help out their neighbour.”

She said the program has received a huge response.

The Golden Circle receives six to 12 daily requests for the Snow Angels program.

The Golden Circle also offers a Home Maintenance program where seniors can have their walks shovelled for $15 an hour. Seniors must qualify for this program. For more information on Snow Angels, call Healing at 403-342-8342.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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