In the face of a blinding blizzard, a little kindness goes a long way.
Embattled hospital workers – fighting whiteout conditions brought on by the third such winter storm to hit New England in about a month – learned that for themselves when Boston Police Commissioner William Evans offered to drive them to Massachusetts General Hospital Sunday morning, New England Cable News reported.
While no travel ban is in effect, the Massachusetts Bay Transport Authority has shut down public transportation for all of Sunday, making the trip near-impossible for hospital workers and others who still needed to show up for work despite the weather.
"I think the city's doing a good job, but obviously, we hope everybody hangs in their house and lets the city do their job," Mr. Evans told NECN. "All in all, I think we're doing the best we can do."
Indeed, the endless barrage of snow in New England and other parts of the United States seems to have brought out the best in more than just local law enforcement, as tales of goodwill circulate online and in the media.
In Maine, volunteer snow crews have been making themselves and their shovels available to elderly residents who need a hand clearing their driveways of snow. Youth volunteers across the state “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,” the Portland Press Herald reported.
Nancy Taylor, for instance, had four feet of snow around her home in Freeport, Maine after the storm that hit on Jan. 27. A troop of shoveling volunteers swooped in, dug out her driveway, and promised to come back whenever she needed them.
“They were like my guardian angels,” Ms. Taylor told the Herald.
In Madison, Wis. a number of men have been dubbed “neighborhood treasures” for tackling driveways besides their own. Armed with snow blowers or shovels, the volunteers traipse around town, clearing sidewalks and lending a hand without the least bit of prompting.
“With great frontage comes great responsibility,” Morgan Robertson, one of the volunteers, told The Capital Times.
Residents of a neighborhood in Ann Arbor, Mich. have formed their own nonprofit, called SnowBuddy, to deal with snow emergencies. The group recently came up with the money to buy a $43,000 tractor to plow their sidewalks, The Atlantic’s CityLab reported.
“Pedestrians deserve a respectful transportation experience, and the sidewalk is fundamentally a transportation corridor,” Paul Tinkerhess, SnowBuddy’s lead organizer and a longtime local, told CityLab. “When you look at it that way, it’s absurd to think that many cities assign winter maintenance of sidewalks to homeowners.”
And the hashtag #ShovelItForward – which began with a group of firefighters in Greenfield, Wis. who went above and beyond the call of duty – has been an encouragement to shovel-wielding young people everywhere.
Such acts of kindness will be essential to riding out the rest of winter: Yet another storm is forecast from Sunday through Tuesday, affecting a long swath of the country that includes the Rockies, Central Plains, the mid-South, Ohio Valley, the mid-Atlantic, and possibly New England, according to The Weather Channel.