CLINTON – Clinton resident Rob Smith learned a lot from his grandmother. She raised him, he said, and taught him right from wrong.
“I kind of got used to helping her out,” he said. “I lost her in 2004 and after that, I felt a need to continue to help people who needed it.”
Ten years later, Smith found the perfect outlet for that desire. In the midst of one of the worst winters in recent history, he was shoveling his own driveway and realized the snow was going to be too heavy for a neighbor to clear. So he kept shoveling and eventually that neighbor had a clean driveway.
“That gave me kind of a kick,” he said. “I just realized that there are a lot of people in town that were probably in the same situation.”
He went to Facebook and posted an update.
“It never hurts too have a heart,” he wrote. “If you know of any elderly people in Clinton that have nobody to help them out, let me know and I’ll go shovel their walkway and such tomorrow … FREE OF CHARGE.”
Smith said the results were very rewarding.
“It just made me feel good about myself,” he said. “It made me think of my grandmother and the thought of helping people out is such a good feeling.”
Soon, he found help in Mike Chaney and the two formed somewhat of a team.
“I am doing this because the people of this town who are unable to get out and shovel snow, have already served their community,” he said. “If I don't step up and try to help, there are not many who will.”
Now, the two are hoping to expand.
“I want to build a team of people,” Smith said. “And I want to go beyond just shoveling snow.
"I want it to be where we help out with random things. And maybe just one of those random things is sitting and visiting with them. But some need help doing laundry or simple chores. Many have lost loved ones and just need a hand or some company.”
Smith, who shoveled for 20 residents Wednesday, said he will not accept money from those he helps.
“We don’t want to accept any tips and we don’t want anyone on this team who is looking to do that,” he said. “This is about helping others, not helping yourself.”
Anybody is eligible to assist, though.
“We have seen other people doing their part, too,” he said. “We have had a few people cook for us or bring us some fast food or something and that is really appreciated, because this is a team effort and everyone is welcome to help out in any way they can.”
The two often use Facebook, other social media and word of mouth to get their message out. Their unselfishness has not gone unnoticed.
“I think this is a great thing for our community,” said Clinton resident Deanna Runyen. “I think that they are inspiring others to also help the elderly and disabled out for free.
"There are a lot of seniors in Clinton that have had to scoop their own walks and drives, and it’s dangerous because they could have succumbed to the elements or worse," she said. "We had one snowstorm where a man died from a heart attack because he scooped snow.
"I feel this is an awesome way to give to our community,” Runyen said.