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Volunteers needed to shovel walks for Lower Valley seniors

Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Ron Silvasy clears snow off walkway at his home on Delafield Road in Aspinwall.

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Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Anyone looking to burn a few calories, work outdoors or just help a neighbor can sign up for the North Hills Community Outreach Snow Squad.

The group is seeking volunteers to help shovel snow for senior citizens throughout the Lower Valley.

“Volunteers are urgently needed,” said Jen Kissel, NHCO director of communications.

There are about 375 senior citizens who have requested help throughout Allegheny County, Kissel said.

Though the region has escaped a major snowfall, there have been a number of smaller storms that add up to even more work, Kissel said.

“The phone lines have been ringing off the hook with requests from seniors desperate for help but very few volunteers are registered,” Kissel said.

She did not have a clear number of how many participants registered for the Snow Squad.

Founded in 1987, North Hills Community Outreach exists to help the needy with food, utility assistance, education, job searches or other services.

Snow Squad is an expansion of the former Pittsburgh-based Snow Angels program.

Snow Squad is a county-wide program of Open Your Heart to a Senior, an initiative of the United Way dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently in their homes. According to its website, Open Your Heart to a Senior is a partner with North Hills Community Outreach and other organizations.

“Helping an elderly or disabled neighbor by shoveling their snow is such a simple way to say “I care,” Kissel said. “It lets the person know that someone is watching out for them by making the driveway and walkway safe for caregivers, meal delivery people and postal workers to get to the house.”

Volunteering is open to teens who need community service hours, youth groups and able adults.

“It makes you feel good to provide this physical task that might be impossible or dangerous for your elderly neighbor to do,” Kissel said.

To volunteer, call 412-307-0071 or email

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at

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