Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a new program that the city of Bexley launched last month, enlists volunteers to lend a helping hand to senior citizens with the tasks of shoveling snow or raking leaves.

"We modeled this on programs that we saw in other cities," said Sam Metcalf, the city's communications coordinator.

The city has hosted various programs over the years that encouraged volunteerism, Metcalf said.

David Hrdlicka, the city's code enforcement officer, proposed creating the Neighbors Helping Neighbors program earlier this winter for the specific purpose of assisting older adults with snow and leaf removal.

"Since we experienced a lot of snow this year, we felt it was time to get this going," Metcalf said.

The program functions on an as-needed basis, with the city contacting volunteers whenever senior citizens request assistance, Metcalf said.

"For the volunteers, it's completely on an as-able basis," he said. "If we ask, 'Can you shovel snow at 3 p.m.?' and they say no, we move on down the list (of volunteers)."

So far, 20 volunteers have signed up for the program, but as of Feb. 2, none had been called upon to perform any service, Metcalf said.

"We're kind of preparing for the next snow," he said.

Because the program is based on the availability of volunteers, the city can't guarantee assistance for all residents who request it, Metcalf said.

"It's going to start small and build from there," he said. "Right now, we're asking (volunteers) to shovel snow and rake leaves, or they can do both."

The Neighbors Helping Neighbors program isn't designed to replace small businesses and individuals who charge for snow and leaf removal, but it offers an option for those who cannot afford such services, Metcalf said.

"We're not trying to infringe on anyone trying to make money," he said. "We would like the service to be available for those who need it."

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