#ShovelItForward: Kindness crossing borders?

In a show of winter warmth, young people as far as Connecticut and Canada are turning the hashtag into action by helping others clear their driveways of snow.

Yfat Yossifor/The Bay City Times/AP Photo/File
Carissa VanHoey and Autumn VanHoey, both 11, play and shovel snow from the driveway Monday, Feb. 2, in Bay City, Mich. As snow continues to pummel the Midwest and the Northeast, a social media campaign called #ShovelItForward is encouraging young people to help elderly neighbors shovel their walks.

For the sick and the elderly, shoveling snow is not just a drag – it can be downright dangerous.

A social media campaign that first popped up in the Midwest is hoping to help ease that burden by calling on able-bodied people everywhere to grab their shovels and dig out their neighbors’ walks.

#ShovelItForward has now gone viral. In Connecticut, local teens Josh Elphick and Nico Bartelli offered to shovel a foot of snow from a neighbor’s walk so that her heating oil could be delivered, ABC affiliate WTNH-TV in New Haven reported.

“It puts a smile on my face, so I enjoy it,” Mr. Bartelli told WTNH. “I try to do what I can from time to time.”

In Canada, auto retail company Canadian Tire has taken the hashtag to a new level with a dedicated website that includes an interactive map and infographics about shoveling safety.

#ShovelItForward began when local firefighters in Greenfield, Wis. were called in Sunday to take an elderly man to the hospital after he suffered what the fire department described as a cardiac emergency while trying to clear his driveway, NBC reported.

Their task done, the firefighters went back to the man’s home and finished his shoveling for him. One neighbor snapped a photo, which has since received more than 23,000 likes on the Greenfield Fire Department's Facebook page.

“Anyone can make a difference,” Greenfield fire chief John Cohn told CBS News.

The trend, if it continues to stick, could prove a relief to a lot of senior homeowners: The barrage of snow that began at the end of January is expected to last well into next week in the Midwest, New England, and upstate New York, according to The Weather Channel.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.