Pearl Moss looked out her front window in Bethel Park, Pa., and was instantly worried. A major snowstorm that pummeled the Pittsburgh area and the East Coast over the weekend had dumped nearly a foot of snow in her driveway, and there was more on the way.
She was recovering from shoulder surgery and didn’t have family members nearby who could help dig her out, she said.
A few hours later, there was a knock on her door. Moss peeked out and was surprised to see two teenage boys standing on her porch with shovels.
“I couldn’t believe it — they were going to shovel me out,” she said. “And they didn’t want a single penny to do it.”
David Shelpman, 16, and Aidan Campbell, 17, live in the same neighborhood as Moss and are on the football team at Bethel Park High School. Head Coach Brian DeLallo had emailed them and other team members Sunday to inform them that their Martin Luther King Jr. Day workout in the school gym wasn’t going to happen.
DeLallo also posted a notice on Twitter with some instructions:
Due to expected severe weather, Monday’s weightlifting workout has been cancelled. Find an elderly or disabled neighbor and shovel their driveway. Don’t accept any money - that’s our Monday workout.— Brian DeLallo (@BDeLallo) January 16, 2022
“Due to expected severe weather, Monday’s weightlifting workout has been cancelled,” he wrote. “Find an elderly or disabled neighbor and shovel their driveway. Don’t accept any money — that’s our Monday workout.”
Shelpman and about 40 other team members put on their snow gear and took their assignment seriously.
“I grabbed some shovels and drove over to pick up Aidan, and we spent the next eight hours shoveling driveways and sidewalks for people that we knew couldn’t do it for themselves,” said Shelpman, an offensive and defensive lineman for the Bethel Park Black Hawks.
“It was a fun way to spend the day,” he said. “We just kept going until we’d done six houses. We even skipped out on having lunch.”
“It made me feel like I was a part of something bigger than myself,” he added.
People in the community were happy to have the extra hands helping out.
Thank you, coach! Some players were in my dad's neighborhood shoveling....great to see kids helping the community. (BPHS alumnus, on team but injured in HS.)— Aaron Varhola (@YinzerV) January 17, 2022
Braedon Del Duca, a guard for the Black Hawks, shoveled out five houses with two of his friends, Colton Pfeuffer and his brother, Tanner Pfeuffer.
“I like helping other people, and I love the snow, so it was fun to get a workout outside,” said Del Duca, 16. “It was cool to see how happy people were when we showed up.”
Helping elderly and disabled residents to dig out after snowstorms is a Bethel Park tradition that goes back two decades, he added.
“My dad went to school here, and he also used to shovel snow around the community,” he said. “Whenever there’s a snow day, it’s just what you do when you’re on the football team.”
Whichever young men helped on Surrey Woods Road, THANK YOU!— Michelle Kotsagrelos (@Greek_Dancer) January 17, 2022
DeLallo, 51, said the “shovel day” ritual was started in 2002 by former head coach Jeff Metheny, who is now retired.
“I was on staff as an assistant coach when he started it, and it’s something everyone is proud to keep going,” he said.
In Bethel Park, a Pittsburgh borough with about 32,000 residents, community support of the football team is strong, DeLallo noted.
“Our games are always well attended, so giving back is the right response,” he said. “Most of our kids know the older people in their neighborhoods, and shoveling snow is a way to connect outside of the usual Friday night football game.”
DeLallo said team members shoveled out about 100 homes, and they plan to return in the next few days to do a few more that they didn’t have time to get to.
“We used snow shovels, snowblowers, you name it,” he said. “I pitched in with the kids, so my back is feeling it today. But it was worth it.”
Other high schools in the area do similar service projects in the community, DeLallo said.
“The feedback has been awesome, but we’re not the only ones making a difference,” he said. “When you get 11 inches of snow, this is something a lot of communities have stepped up to do.”
Pearl Moss said she’s grateful for the teens, adding that if they hadn’t shown up when they did, she probably would have been stuck in her house for a while.
“Those kids did a fine job, and I’ll never forget it,” she said. “They were a bright spot on a stormy morning.”
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