Though Tuesday’s snowstorm didn’t live up to expectations as a disaster, volunteers with a free snow removal service will still hit the streets to help the elderly and disabled.
“These are folks that, even though it was a really light snowfall, they need help,” said Jackie Wleh, founder of ABC Men, a local charity that offers free snow shoveling during winter.
The group of about 10 volunteers will cruise from Drexel Hill, west of the city, to the peak of Northeast Philadelphia, making calls to residents in need of of a shoveling.
“It’s free of charge,” Wleh said Tuesday before meeting up with volunteers to start shoveling. “We’ll take our shovels, salt, do the cars if necessary, then their sidewalks and pour salt after.”
The Streets Department can ticket residents who do not clear a three-foot wide path in front of their homes after a snowfall. Wleh said the service is to help residents avoid the fees, but also to make sure they can get out of their homes.
Wleh has offered the service for about four years. It’s common for neighbors to come and ask the volunteers to shovel their walks as well, he said, which they are happy to do.
“People are like, ‘What? Are you kidding me?’ when they hear what we’re doing,” Wleh said. “One lady said to one of the volunteers, ‘What planet are you from?’ But that’s love.”
The clients whom the volunteers help range from a 95-year-old man living alone to a woman with a heart condition and back problems that prevent her from shoveling her own walks.
The only restriction on the amount of help they provide, Wleh said, is resources.
“If we had a van, we could do 100 or 1,000 times as much,” he said. “But if you wait until you have the money, you’re never going to do anything.”
Visit abcmen.org to request snow removal services or to volunteer.