CORTLANDT, N.Y. – As changing leaves litter the Town of Cortlandt, sign up for "Operation Snowflake" has begun. The program pays children 12 and up $8 per hours to shovel the walkways and driveways of neighborhood seniors.
Nearly 100 seniors signed up for the program already, but capacity is determined by the number of kids who sign up, said Nora Hogan, social worker for Cortlandt's Office of the Aging. Finding kids to participate in the program can be challenging, last year only six youngsters signed up, and three were brothers, Hogan said.
"It's not easy, and a lot of kids just don't have that motivation, they don't need the money," Hogan said, despite that some seniors tip as much as $10. If it takes a teenager two hours to shovel a driveway, the maximum amount of time allowed on one house, that teen could make $26. Cortlandt pays the hourly rate, seniors are encouraged to tip, said Hogan.
Even teenagers who used to shovel the driveways as community service to donate the money to charity are harder to find, said Hogan.
"When we took this over we have 25 kids in Croton, Montrose, Verplanck, everywhere we had them, and we were able to accommodate 70, 80 people," she said about taking over the program 14 years ago. Croton and Buchanan teens are also eligible for the program, since the two incorporated villages are part of the town.
Colleen Anderson, program director at the Town of Cortlandt's Youth Center, said almost a dozen kids have already signed up, and she's hoping to receive more applications in the coming months.
"We just really hope to pair up as many adolescents and seniors as we can, I just heard today that it's going to be a bad winter," Anderson said. Youth applications are available at the Cortlandt Youth Center, senior applications are available at Cortlandt Town Hall, the Muriel H. Morabito Community Center and the Cortlandt Youth Center.