Dave King has been plowing driveways for about 30 years and started offering free plowing for those in need last year. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Dave King doesn’t especially like cold weather and he doesn’t love snowplowing.

But that hasn’t stopped the 52-year-old Sanford man from helping people who can’t afford to have their driveways plowed.

Now he’s starting a fundraising effort to encourage others with plow trucks to do the same.

King started volunteering last year when he overheard someone at a local store saying they might not have enough money to pay for plowing. The person said it cost them $40 to have their driveway plowed and there were two storms that week. Their paycheck hadn’t arrived yet, and they wouldn’t be able to get to work if their driveway wasn’t plowed.

“They were carrying on,” King said. “I was trying not to eavesdrop.”

But he listened and it got to him.

On a Sanford/Springvale community Facebook page, he posted that if someone couldn’t afford to pay for plowing and needed it, contact him “and I’ll do some free plowing,” King said during an interview Sunday.

It didn’t take long before his plow route grew to 40 households in the area. Some are paying customers, others he helps for free.

Jessica Fajardo of Springvale is grateful that Dave King has been plowing her mother’s driveway for free during storms. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

King is married with a family and leaves home before the sun rises to commute to Massachusetts, where he works as an electrician for a solar company. When a storm hits, he’ll typically start plowing after driving home from work, around 4 p.m., and finishes plowing around 11 p.m.

King said he’s plowed for about 30 years. When asked if he likes it, he admitted, “not really. I don’t like to get out in the cold.”

But since he started plowing for free last year, he’s more committed.

“They couldn’t go without the service I offer them now,” King said.

One Sanford woman shared with King that she has serious health problems and can’t shovel. Her husband used to do it, King said, but he just had a stroke.

“Now she’s out of work to take care of her husband. He’s in a wheelchair and can’t do anything,” King said. With no money to pay for plowing “what do they do?”

There are many people in that situation who have no one to help clear snow, King said, especially older people and the disabled.

Marilyn Smith of Springvale said King plows her home for free.

“My mom is 90 years old. We don’t have a lot of money,” Smith said. “We don’t have any way of doing it other than shoveling. You know how heavy that stuff is.”

That King plows for free “is amazing,” she said. “He does a good job. He’s thorough, he’s very polite and kind.”

Jessica Fajardo called King for her mother, who’s 71.

“I let him know about my mom. Every storm he shows up without hesitation,” Fajardo said. “He’s genuinely helping out people in the community.”

Around Maine, other individuals and groups are also helping with snow removal.

Several scout groups organize volunteers who shovel walks and driveways for free. In Augusta, a group of volunteers started by Augusta police and others created a “Clear Paths” program to shovel snow for older people.

In the Hampden area, father and son Steven and Ryker Sobel started “BeBetter207,” a nonprofit to provide free snowplowing and shoveling and other kinds of assistance. According to their Facebook page, they also accept winter clothing donations.

For King and others like him, the need is obvious. If someone can’t physically shovel, “and if you don’t have the money to pay someone to plow your driveway, you are stuck in your own driveway,” King said. Sometimes the snow disappears with rain, but “you are at the mercy of the weather, and for how long?”

King said he would like to see free plowing expand beyond Sanford/Springvale and hopes other people with plow trucks will consider donating their services to those in need.

Last week he created “The Southern Maine Plowing Initiative” GoFundMe page, with a goal of raising $10,000. “It’s blown up,” he said.

In a few days people donated more than $2,000. Seeing the reaction “makes me feel good,” he said. “It makes me feel like there’s a chance of this working.”

He’s also received a lot of posts thanking him.

That’s appreciated, King said, but “it’s not a pat on the back I’m looking for. What I need is volunteers and money. I’d like to do all of southern Maine.”

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