CHICAGO — My Block, My Hood, My City has launched a new tool to help elderly Chicagoans during snowstorms.
The organization, which helps kids from the South Side explore other parts of the city, has also become known for hosting meetups where people gather and shovel snow off the city sidewalks for elderly Chicagoans.
Those meetups have become increasingly popular: More than 700 people have put in requests for shovelers and more than 300 people have volunteered to shovel, said Jahmal Cole, founder of the group.
Now, My Block, My Hood, My City has launched a texting program that will help it better connect shovelers with the people who need their help.
Those interested in volunteering to shovel for seniors can text “Shovel” to 55222. The next time there’s a snowstorm, My Block, My Hood, My City will text volunteers about what spots need to be shoveled near each volunteer’s home and will send details about shoveling meetups.
In the past, Cole said he’d have to tell volunteers, “‘Hey, meet us at 79th Street,'” and participants would then gather there before being deployed to other addresses where they could shovel. He started the texting signup to make the volunteering process more organized.
Volunteers and requests came in from “everywhere around the city, which is great news,” Cole said, noting he’d hear from Chicagoans in neighborhoods from Jefferson Park to Roseland.
“But I wanted to make sure we were able to manage that kind of volume in a more efficient way,” he said.
The shoveling meetups are still a powerful tool and will still be held, Cole said. The events force Chicagoans to get outside their comfort zones and come to the South Side to meet people, see different communities and help better a city block, he said.
So far, the feedback has been nothing but positive, Cole said, with people calling the volunteer shoveling a “blessing” for communities and elderly residents.
“It brings people of all different colors and gender and religions and opinions together,” he said. “It connects Chicago in a way. … The power is getting people from all different sides of the city to connect.”
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