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Neighbors helping neighbors in Bellevue with shoveling

By Heather Graves

BELLEVUE – Wisconsin and snow go hand-in-hand, and shoveling the cold, white stuff becomes second nature.

Unfortunately, some residents are physically unable to get out and shovel the snow accumulation which falls each year.

This winter, thanks to the help of some volunteers, there is some relief for those who struggle with snow removal.

The Village of Bellevue has launched a volunteer snow shoveling program – pairing volunteers with people in need of help – and because of how the program was started, Village Administrator Diane Wessel said it might have been meant to be.

Earlier this month, a resident messaged the village about snow plowing and why their street wasn’t plowed yet.

“In response, I summarized the village’s snow plowing and ice control plan and our street priorities,” Wessel said.

She said while reviewing the village’s policies she came across a FAQ on the village’s website referring to volunteers helping the elderly, ill or people with disabilities clear their driveways and sidewalks.

“I asked longer-term staff who manages the program, if we have a list, etc.,” Wessel said. “No one was aware of the program, no one was aware that it was on our website. No one could locate any history on the program. It may have been in existence before, but we could not find any evidence of any program other than the reference on the Village’s Snow and Ice FAQ webpage.”

This sparked discussion of launching the volunteer shoveling program which was already being advertised on the village’s website.

Coincidentally, the discussion happened Dec. 3, on Giving Tuesday.

“We thought some may not have the financial resources to give financially, but want to give in another way,” Wessel said. “So we thought we’d give it a try and launch, or re-launch, the program.”

The first step for anyone interested in helping out is filling out a volunteer form and release – both of which are available on the village’s website or at the village offices.

Those in need to help will also be asked to fill out a release form.

“We will keep a list of those in need and those volunteering and match them up as best we can,” Wessel said. “Who among us has never needed help? Nor knows anyone who has never needed this kind of help? And according to the forecasts and Farmer’s Almanac, we’re in for another doozy of a winter. ”

She said she is unaware of any other volunteer programs like this in the area.

It’s also an opportunity for high school students looking for community service credits.

“It is unique because of how we got here,” Wessel said. “A resident asked a simple question which led staff to a page on our own website for a program that we were completely unaware of and doesn’t appear to have ever actually existed. And it happened on Giving Tuesday. Perhaps divine intervention?”

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