Record snowfalls across the US are amplifying the need for kind-hearted ‘snow angels.’
This has been a banner year for ice and snow storms across the United States. From freak snowfall in the southwest to an unrelenting string of blizzards in the northeast, this winter is almost certain to go down as one of the snowiest on record.
Just look at some of these statistics: New York City has seen five times its average annual snowfall (and winter is only half over!), Atlanta has seen four times as much snow as normal and Oklahoma has smashed its all-time snowfall and wind chill records. Even Florida — the Sunshine State — is seeing record low temperatures.
Perhaps you’ve gotten a fun snow day or two out of this crazy season. But what about some of the less privileged members of your community — those who may be suffering because of the cold weather? Here are five ways to make an impact on their lives.
1. Help someone heat their home.
With the economic downturn continuing to batter the US, an increasing number of families are unable to afford the electricity and/or gas they need to heat their homes. To make matters worse, the federally-funded Home Energy Assistance program is facing massive budget cutbacks. So consider donating to a nonprofit that provides utilities assistance in your area. Catholic Charities is one group that provides such assistance across the country.
2. Give your money or time to a local shelter.
When difficult weather conditions roll through an area, many vulnerable residents, including homeless individuals, find refuge at local shelters. The extra demand for food, beds and volunteers can be overwhelming for these shelters, especially during a prolonged period of inclement weather. So give a few extra dollars, or call your local shelter to find out how you can help.
3. Shovel someone out.
In areas that don’t typically get a lot of snow, people are often ill-equipped to deal with the stuff. I’ve heard of people in Texas, where it’s been uncharacteristically snowy this year, trying to “shovel” out their cars with garden rakes! So this one’s simple: if you have snow-removal equipment, or even just an able body, help out those around you who may not be so lucky. Don’t wait for them to ask — just offer! And while you’re at it, do a good service for yourself and your neighbors by shoveling out the fire hydrants on your block.
4. Check on your elderly neighbors.
Don’t assume that your elderly neighbors have family or resources. Check in on them yourself, and make sure they have their medications, the heat is working, the fridge is stocked and the pipes aren’t frozen. More people die during the winter months than any other time of year, so it’s important to play it safe.
5. Stay off the roads.
How does not driving have an impact on a community after a snow storm? It saves lives. An astonishing 70 percent of accidental deaths that occur during the winter are caused by car accidents. So when you hear that roads are icy, stay off them. Period.
Good luck braving the winter weather, everyone.
Photo by Joe Schlabotnik via Flickr.