December 30, 2009

USA: 78-year-old spends chilly Christmas Eve shoveling snow, help elderly neighbors

. LUBBOCK, Texas / The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal / December 30, 2009 By Alyssa Dizon | Avalanche-Journal On Christmas Eve, Roger Jacobsen, 78, of Lubbock, shoveled the sidewalk and walkways for 10 of the houses on his street to give back to his neighbors. Merissa Ferguson/Lubbock Avalanche While most people opted to stay cozy and warm in their houses on snowy Christmas Eve, Roger Jacobsen, 78, shoveled paths and sidewalks for 10 of his neighbors. "If they give prizes for Good Samaritans, he's it," said Calvin Harkness, Jacobsen's next-door neighbor. It started a little after noon when Jacobsen tried to clear his sidewalks with a plastic rake and a broom. His neighbor across the street, Betty Jennings, saw him and offered to lend him her snow shovel. With the red shovel in hand, he cleared his sidewalks and Jennings' sidewalks and porch to thank her. "I was just overwhelmed with his goodness and kindness," said 80-year-old Jennings. "I just don't have enough kind words to say for him." But Jacobsen didn't stop there. He shoveled for a neighbor with heart problems, a neighbor who walks with a cane, a neighbor with cancer, a neighbor with a bad back - he kept shoveling for 41/2 hours until he had done 10 of the 13 houses on his street. "I went out and I just kept going," Jacobsen said. "I'm in good health; I can do it." The majority of the people who live on his block are 65 or older, said Harkness, and are not physically able to shovel their own driveways. His neighbors with health concerns should not have to shovel snow, and he could have hired someone, but Jacobsen said it would be "good exercise" to do it himself. Jennings, who had a hip replacement and had just recovered from a fractured foot, said she could not risk shoveling her own sidewalks. "If I fall, I'm in big time trouble," she said. Harkness said he just was going to wait for the snow to melt on its own and even tried to stop Jacobsen when he saw him working. "I was worried about him - being out there exerting himself as cold as it was," Harkness said. "I told him, 'Just let it go,' and he said, 'No, (the snow) is soft' ... He just had an answer for everything." Jacobsen said another neighbor gave him a stocking cap she had knitted to thank him and keep him warm as he worked. Harkness and two other neighbors offered to pay Jacobsen for shoveling their sidewalks and driveways, but Jacobsen refused. He shoveled an area by the neighborhood mailboxes for the mailman and the alley with the garbage Dumpsters. Jacobsen said his other next-door neighbor has cancer and was frequently visited by nurses and her sister who lived across the street. He shoveled a 6-foot path from one house to the other for the sister and made a place for nurses to park along the street. Jacobsen even worked a little more Christmas Day and Sunday to shovel the melted snow to the drain down the street. "It was Christmastime, and they're all very nice to me - I've only been here about a year and so I relied on them a lot when I came here," Jacobsen said. "It's a way to give back to them." The neighborhood, Jacobsen said, is a close-knit community of good friends who look out for each other, exchanging Christmas presents and holiday snacks. Even before the winter storm, Harkness said Jacobsen was constantly helping him and his neighbors. Jacobsen swept dirt and leaves that collected on the street, picked up neighbors' mail when they were out of town and brought their newspapers to their door. Jennings said every morning her newspaper would be sitting at her doorstep thanks to the neighborhood's "little elf." Even as the snow fell Tuesday afternoon, Jacobsen went right back to work, shoveling the small patches of white into the street. "He just delights in doing things for other people," Harkness said. "He's just something else - younger generations could take a lesson from him." [rc] © 2009 The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal