WINSLOW — A school bus made multiple trips Friday morning to Heartland Estates, off Roderick Road, carrying groups of middle schoolers to and from the community, where more residents are senior citizens.
The teenagers went to the area with a purpose: to clear out several feet of snow from places the condominium association didn’t touch, such as decks and dryer vents.
“I love shoveling. … I do it all the time for my grandma,” 14-year-old Crystal Mayhew said. “When I heard about this, I wanted to do it.”
On Friday, the last day before February vacation break, the middle school students planned to enjoy a “winterfest” day that included a trip to the town’s ice rink, but middle school teacher Mary Beth Bourgoin thought they should include a community service component as well.
When she called Parks and Recreation Director Amanda McCaslin about having the students clear off the ice rink, McCaslin told her instead about calls the Town Office had received from elderly people who needed help shoveling. Some 2 feet of snow piled up earlier this week from a big snowstorm that brought blizzard conditions and even higher snowdrifts.
“I just thought, what a great thing for them to do,” McCaslin said. “Obviously there’s such a need.”
The town gathered a list of addresses of people who had called for help, and Bourgoin asked her parents to get the word out at Heartland Estates. About 90 children, or one-third of the middle school, signed up to go shovel, she said.
They waded through the 3 feet piled up around houses to find dryer vents, chipped away at ice, and cleared walkways through yards leading to propane tanks.
Jade Crimmins, 13, said she signed up to shovel because she likes to be in the snow.
“I figured I could use that … to help other people,” she said while shoveling a walkway to the side of a condominium.
Bourgoin, the teacher, said the condominium association plows the driveways, but it doesn’t shovel decks or around dryer vents and propane tanks, areas that raise concern after the recent snowstorms in Maine.
Eisa Thibeau, a Heartland Estates resident and the association’s secretary, said it was great to have the students help the residents. Thibeau, 73, is also a former Messaloskee school district teacher.
“It’s hard for older people to get out,” she said, adding that she has fallen three times so far this year.
Bourgoin hopes this act of community service will remind people that there are good kids in the community, even if they don’t always get attention.
“The one thing we’re trying to instill in them is giving back,” she said.
McCaslin said the town mostly heard from people who couldn’t afford professional help for shoveling. One woman was worried about her deck and couldn’t get access to her generator, she said.
McCaslin hopes the effort will inspire more people to check on their neighbors.
“The worst that can happen is you get to know your neighbors,” she said.
Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239