STERLING – Thanks to a group of high school students, some members of the community had one less thing to worry about on a snowy Wednesday afternoon.
Building trades students from the Whiteside Area Career Center have been shoveling snow-filled driveways out of the goodness of their hearts for the last few days – and the last 12 years.
Every winter, instructor John Gehrke has his students hop on a bus and drive around town, where they perpetrate random acts of kind shoveling while on their way to and from the house they are building, which this year is in Rock Falls.
They like to stop at houses where people already are outside shoveling, so they can take that weight off their shoulders.
The teens don’t seem to think they are doing anything special.
“We just went around and we see people out shoveling, we’d stop and help them,” said Dalton Wittenauer, 18, of Amboy. “They’re all happy for the help. They all say thank you.”
Most of the recipients are surprised, and elderly people are especially appreciative, Wittenauer said.
“It’s pretty exciting seeing their faces – they’re like, ‘Woo! Yeah!” said Teresa Scanlan, 17, of Ashton. Someone offered to pay them $10 for their work today, which the students did not accept, she said.
Travis Wangelin, 16, of Tampico, said shoveling shows respect to others while helping at the same time.
Ralph Price was one of those who benefited Wednesday from the kids’ goodwill. Earlier in the day, he was approached by someone who offered to shovel his driveway for a charge.
Price said no, saying he was going to use his snowblower, but he couldn’t get it running.
“I tried to get the snowblower running and these kids showed up,” said Price, 61, who lives on East 13th in Sterling. Their help was “totally awesome.”
“We’ve been here 19 years; this is the first time it’s ever happened,” he said. “I had just gone out. They showed up.”
Kim Purvis, the Career Center director, sent an email to the staff Friday after she was contacted by someone the teens had helped.
“A woman carrying cookies in hand came into my office and started to cry,” Purvis wrote. “She said she was a widow and she was caring for her mother who is in intensive care and very ill.”
“This morning she was attempting to shovel her driveway quickly so she could get back to the hospital, and all of the sudden these [high schoolers] appeared, shoveled her driveway, refused any money and then left.”
Price said the act of goodwill saved him a lot of work, and “I’m looking forward to kids getting the credit they deserve.”
Today will be cloudy with only a a 30 percent chance of snow. Expect no snow melt, though: The high will be in the low 30s, with a north wind of 10 to 15 mph all day and all night. There's a slight chance of flurries tonight and a low in the low 20s. North wind 10 to 15 mph.
Friday will be mostly cloudy with a chance of scattered flurries, a high in the low 30s. and a low around 16. That nasty north wind will remain.
Saturday through Sunday, there's no snow forecast, but highs will be only in the upper 20s, and lows around 10 degrees.