January 8, 2009 in Washington Voices

Boy Scouts become snow angels

Shoveling service project busting berms, driveways
By The Spokesman-Review
Jesse Tinsley photo

Cub Scout Jac Newman, 6, helps shovel snow off a car while clearing a driveway as a service project with the local Boy Scout community last week.
(Full-size photo)

How to help

To get linked to the Boy Scout map and find out who needs help in your neighborhood, send an e-mail to Steve@nwScouts.org or call 325-4562.

2-1-1 needs volunteers

With as many as 500 calls coming in to 2-1-1, every day from people needing help with errands and other non-emergency issues, the list of volunteers is quickly exhausted.

“It’s a very, very short list we have,” said Amy Peters, program manager for 2-1-1.

Volunteers who can help take people to medical appointments, run errands, help with snow and ice removal and do wellness checks on elderly, snowbound people are needed.

Church and other community groups are encouraged to sign up.

“We want to emphasize to people that 2-1-1 is only as good as the resources that we have,” said Peters. “Some callers are very frustrated, they say ‘I already called them – it’s not working.’ For now, we encourage people to do what they can to help their neighbors.”

To volunteer, make a free call to 2-1-1.

– Pia Hallenberg Christensen

The phones are ringing off the hook at the Inland Northwest Council of Boy Scouts of America. Since Dec. 22 nearly 150 people have called asking for help with snow shoveling and the calls keep coming in.

“We get more frequent calls from people when they get a really big dump,” said Steve Yackel, director of field services for the Inland Northwest Council of Boy Scouts of America, and the keeper of the long list. “We’ve always gotten these requests, but this is the first year we’ve put it on the Web site and gone directly to the troop leaders for help.”

There are 5,860 Boy Scouts in the greater Spokane area and so far about 68 have participated in the shoveling.

“The Scout slogan is to do a good turn daily,” Yackel said. “Many scouts help out without being on this list or calling us. No, there is no winter weather or snow shoveling merit badge.”

Yackel knows of at least another 23 households that have gotten a helping hand from the Boy Scouts.

“People need help with snow shoveling in driveways and on sidewalks, and we get a lot of specific requests from folks being ‘bermed’ in by snowplows,” Yackel said.

The Boy Scouts also get a lot of calls from people who need help clearing their roofs, but that’s a no go.

“We don’t put kids up on roofs, period,” Yackel said.

The snow shoveling Web link was put up the week of Christmas, when the first big storm hit.

“Now if people want to volunteer they can go to our Web site and look for homes in need,” said Yackel.

Since the Boy Scouts are too young to drive, they can’t run errands either.

After the holidays, it’s become more of a challenge to coordinate the work Yackel said, because many of the scout leaders are back at work during the day.

“A lot of this has to take place at night – we really need all the help we can get,” said Yackel. “We’ll keep the program running depending on the need.”

Reach Pia Hallenberg Christensen at (509) 459-5427 or piah@spokesman.com

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