AUGUSTA — Augusta is making a list of senior citizens and others unable to fill and haul their own buckets of sand to spread at their homes when winter ice and snow makes getting around treacherous.

If you make the list, you get a free bucket of sand delivered to your home, through the just launched new Sand Buckets for Seniors program.

In the new program, a partnership of the city’s Bureau of Parks, Cemeteries and Trees and the Augusta Age-Friendly Committee, city workers will deliver one 5-gallon bucket of salted sand to their homes, for use on their walkways, driveways, or other ice-covered patches of ground this winter.

Augusta residents 60 and older, or who are disabled, and who are unable to get themselves a bucket of sand for winter traction, are eligible for the free service.

“There are folks who can’t get up and go out and get a bucket of sand at public works, and these are the same people most likely to slip and fall,” said Bob MacDougall, chairman of the Augusta Age-Friendly committee.

The filled buckets will be delivered after Thanksgiving, but residents can sign up now and need to do so by Nov. 13, so city officials know how many buckets they will be delivering, and where.

“We need to be able to deploy it in an organized way. Otherwise we’re not being efficient with tax dollars,” said Leif Dahlin, the city’s community services director.

Dahlin said the sand will be delivered by parks and recreation employees in a truck with buckets and sand in it who’ll stop at the residences of people on the list, fill up a bucket of sand and leave it for them.

MacDougall said while the program was proposed by the his committee, and is called Sand Buckets for Seniors, people younger than 60 who are disabled and unable to get their own sand buckets also may take part in the program and get a bucket of sand delivered free. He said he hopes people who are able to get their own sand, which residents can get at the public works garage on North Street, will do so, and not take advantage of the program, which potentially could deprive someone truly in need of getting one of the 350 or so buckets they have to fill with sand.

“We need to believe in the honesty and integrity of people in Augusta. This is a service provided to those who need it,” MacDougall said. “It shouldn’t be taken advantage of by someone just too lazy to get their own sand. When we run out of buckets, we run out of buckets.”

Residents who wish to be added to the list may contact Wendy Somes, with the Parks, Cemeteries and Trees Bureau at the Buker Community Center, at 626-2350, or email [email protected]

Anyone who wants to help with the program or other Augusta Age-Friendly committee efforts may get more information on the group’s Facebook page, or email MacDougall at [email protected] The committee meets the first Tuesday of every month at Augusta City Center.

The buckets for the sand program, currently stored in a city mausoleum, were donated by businesses including Lowe’s, Home Depot, Aubuchon Hardware, and Tractor Supply, with another 100 to 150 used buckets that once held paint or another product and have been re-purposed as sand buckets.

There are no plans to provide refills of the buckets when they are empty, though MacDougall said if someone runs out and is unable to get more and the person calls, someone with the Augusta Age-Friendly committee might be able to accommodate them and deliver another bucket.

This year the city budgeted $5,700 for the new program, to cover the cost of employees delivering the sand and taking phone calls about it, and the cost of the truck to deliver it.

MacDougall said Sara Grant, committee co-chairwoman, brought the Sand Buckets for Seniors idea to him, after hearing about similar programs elsewhere.

Augusta Age-Friendly formed in 2016 with a goal of making Augusta a more livable community for people of all ages. While the “age-friendly” designation is part of an AARP program, MacDougall and city officials have noted the things that make a community livable for senior citizens — public transportation, access to services, walkability and the like — often do the same for people of all ages.

The group received a Spirit of America award at a recent Augusta City Council meeting, at which it was praised for its efforts, and for the new sand bucket program.

“Thank you,. You guys are doing a great thing for our community,” Mayor David Rollins said after hearing of the group’s plans and programs.

MacDougall said other programs Augusta Age-Friendly is doing, or working on, include a pending home repair program which, in a partnership with the Augusta Masonic Lodge, will provide volunteers to do minor home repairs for the elderly; a program teaching youths in the Augusta Area Boys and Girls Clubs how to sew; the production of a resource guide for elderly residents; demonstrations, by Augusta police, on pedestrian safety; and a business age-friendly certification program.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

filed under: