SUNSET PARK — Sunset Park resident Pete Connolly is picking up a shovel to help his neighbors this winter — and he’s urging others to join in his quest to clear the sidewalks of snow.
Connolly, 42, created the “Sunset Park Shovel Brigade” last week to lend a helping hand to local residents in anticipation of the season’s snowfall, he explained.
Originally from Buffalo, Connolly started the Brigade after hearing about good Samaritans that helped neighbors shovel during November's massive snowstorms in western New York.
He recalled thinking, “there’s got to be some people who need help [in Sunset Park]."
Connolly, a video producer who has lived in in the neighborhood for almost eight years, created a Facebook page for the Brigade after initially posting about it on the popular “Sunset Parker” Facebook group.
“We’re hoping to make the tough winter months easier,” he said.
The Brigade's Facebook group currently has 11 members — including seven to eight volunteers — and Connolly is calling on “anyone who’s able to wield a shovel” to pitch in.
He is also collecting addresses of people in the neighborhood who need assistance during the winter months.
When there’s a forecast of snow, he will post the list of addresses onto the private Facebook page. Volunteers can then post which addresses and sidewalks they would like to tackle in the comments section, he said.
“I think once the snow starts falling, it will grow,” Connolly said.
The service is primarily for private homeowners, since landlords are responsible for snow removal in front of their tenants' buildings. Connolly added that the group would make an exception for residents with extenuating circumstances.
According to the National Weather Service, the next prediction for snow is Sunday night.
Hector Santiago, 31, a lifelong resident who is assisting Connolly with the group, said it's one of the first volunteer efforts he’s seen in the neighborhood.
“If you know someone, bring it to their attention,” he said.
Locals are encouraged to spread the word, especially to elderly neighbors who aren’t on Facebook. The group is also planning to post fliers in churches and community centers.
To volunteer or contact the group, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Facebook page.