This winter kicked off with record-setting snow and freezing temperatures — and we’re not even halfway through, which means many of us have weeks or months of snow (and snow shoveling) to look forward to.
Municipal codes generally require residents to clear snow and ice from the sidewalks on their properties within a certain period of time (often 24 hours) after it accumulates or stops falling. Property owners may face fines and/or be charged for the cost of snow removal if they don’t shovel by the deadline.
The reason: Wet, slick, and icy sidewalks are treacherous for passers-by, and cities hold property owners responsible for minimizing the risk. Of course, shoveling snow is hard work—and for older adults and those with disabilities and mobility issues, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to keep up all winter long.
Want to help out? In many cities, there are programs that connect volunteers with neighbors who need assistance clearing their sidewalks and digging out their cars.
Here’s how to find opportunities in your area.
Go to the .gov site for your city or county. You may find snow removal volunteer opportunities listed on the main site or specific department pages:
Depending on your city, you may have to fill out a form and sign a waiver to apply as a volunteer. Here are a few examples of city snow removal programs:
Some cities may have snow removal programs run by community groups. VolunteerMatch is a nonprofit that connects volunteers with charitable organizations in their area. You’ll have to create a free account to search for, view, and apply for opportunities. You can narrow down your results by city or by cause — you can also search for “snow” or “snow shoveling” or related keywords.
If the first two options don’t bring up any results, the next best thing is to search for opportunities directly. Just type “volunteer snow removal” your city into Google. You may also find local news stories that include contact information for the department or organization in charge of your snow removal program.