Nancy Taylor of Freeport didn’t know what to do.

She was worried she might have a second heart attack, but after the blizzard of Jan. 27, she had 4 feet of snow all around her house and couldn’t open her back door.

Then Tod Yankee showed up with his troop of 12 Boy Scout shovelers, who had been alerted about Taylor’s predicament. In an hour, they had cleared her out and vowed to come back whenever she needed them. Taylor said she is no longer afraid of the snow.

“They were like my guardian angels,” she said.

Yankee and his Scouts are among legions of Good Samaritan shovelers who relish the task of digging out neighbors and friends after a hard winter storm.

They think nothing of snowblowing a path to an elderly neighbor’s propane tank, digging out the deck at a friend’s house or performing other random acts of snow-clearing kindness. Some work through organized networks, and others just make it up as they go along.


“There is a whole crew of us out there,” said Tripp Kise, 33, a shoveling volunteer in Freeport. Forecasters say another winter storm could hit coastal areas later this week, so the shovelers may have more work to do.

In Portland, Joan Sheedy keeps a long list of shovel-wielding groups who clear sidewalks gratis and connects them with snowbound senior citizens in Portland – the volunteers are helping about 150 of them this year.

“I have Boy Scouts of America, Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Maine, Long Creek Youth Development Center and now University of Southern Maine. It is working out,” said Sheedy.

Sheedy started the FREE Senior Snow-Shoveling Project nine years ago. Now it is promoted as a model for other cities by the National Association of Triads, an Alexandria, Virginia, nonprofit that works with police departments to help seniors feel more secure.


Deb Daggett, volunteer coordinator for Freeport Community Services, which links shovelers with snowed-in residents, said the town has an army of volunteers who turn out when the weather turns fierce simply for the satisfaction of making someone else’s life a little better.


“There are so many kind people in this area that think with their hearts and continuously do quiet, helpful things all of their lives. They make this community the gem that it is, ” Daggett said.

Kise has been shoveling snow for free in Freeport for the past two winters.

“Honestly, my girlfriend broke up with me and two days later I walked into Freeport Community Services to volunteer,” said Kise, a carpenter.

Last winter, Kise shoveled snow at three homes and at his mother’s house. This year, he is shoveling for two Freeport residents and for his mother, Sarah Smith, whose family established the 626-acre Wolfe’s Neck Farm, a demonstration saltwater farm and educational center in Freeport.

Kise said his mother always raved about the volunteers who shoveled her out before he moved to Maine from Philadelphia five years ago. He said he wanted to return the favor.

It takes him about seven hours of moving snow with a scoop – no snowblowers or plows in his repertoire – after each storm to shovel out all the homes. He said shoveling is his winter sport, and helping others makes him feel good.


“It is such a simple thing but such a necessity for so many people,” he said.


Valerie Ricker and her husband, John Cunningham, who live at the corner of Spring Street and Morse Court in Brunswick, are known as the Good Samaritan snow shovelers of their neighborhood. When town snowplows clear Spring Street and leave behind a long berm that blocks Morse Court, the two shovel it out of the way.

“There is a little bit of selfishness there in the fact that we are trying to make the sidewalk accessible in front of our house,” said Ricker, who works at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

She and her husband, a lawyer, have been shoveling the entrance to Morse Court for the 19 winters they have lived at 8 Spring St. Ricker said they are happy to do it, even though the barrage of snowstorms this winter has made it a bigger challenge than in past years.

“It takes a village to keep a village moving,” said Ricker.



Quigley Douglas says he shovels the driveways of neighbors and nearby family members around Saco.

Douglas was photographed by a Portland Press Herald photographer while shoveling out his neighbor during the Jan. 27 blizzard. Douglas, who lives at 140 Pleasant St., said he looked across the street and felt sorry for his neighbor.

“He gets like 10 times more snow than I do. I am 23, young and ready to go,” said Douglas, a laborer at Normand Berube Builders.

Douglas said he enjoys shoveling snow because it keeps him in shape. He takes pride in keeping his own sidewalk as snow-free as possible.

“It is one of those things,” he said. “Some like to punch a punching bag. Some people like to work out in a gym. I like to go out there and shovel.”


Stacie Hanes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said another major snowstorm is heading up the coast toward Maine and should arrive sometime early Thursday morning.

The good news is the storm appears to be headed out to sea. Hanes said the storm could drop 2 to 4 inches of snow on the coast, with inland areas receiving lesser amounts.

“We will probably get a little bit of snow on Thursday, but the storm could miss us completely,” Hanes said.

The next chance for snow is Sunday, but Hanes said it is too early to predict any snowfall amounts.


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