AMESBURY — A group of local angels — "Snow Angels" to be exact — have spent the past two winters voluntarily digging senior citizens out of their homes and they are looking to expand.
CNA Stores Inc. operates marijuana retail shops in Amesbury and Haverhill, and also has a cultivation facility on South Hunt Road. The company has been working with the Amesbury Council on Aging as well as Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini to provide free snow removal for area seniors.
The CNA Stores army of roughly 40 snow plowers and shovelers are known simply as the Snow Angels and have been shoveling and plowing senior citizens out of their homes after winter storms since late 2019.
"It's all of our staff, our bud tenders, our office staff, anybody who is off," CNA Stores Community Outreach Director Scott Winters said. "This is the culture of our stores."
Rob DiFazio is the CEO of CNA Stores (CNA stands for Completely Natural Alternatives), which is a veteran-owned company that he said places an importance on community involvement.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who like playing in the snow," DiFazio said. "A snowstorm comes up, we put the word out to the team, asking anyone who wants to join us. Developing that kind of culture has really made us successful. The more you give out, the more you get back."
DiFazio said he has about 40 employees serving as Snow Angels and clearing 48 properties in Amesbury and Haverhill.
“My son is still in high school and he can use this toward his charity hours," DiFazio said. "Amesbury High School requires 10 charity hours each year, so he and his buddies have been able to knock off some of those."
The demand for free snow removal has been substantial, Winters said.
“There is a big cry for this,” Winters said. "Older folks want to stay in their homes and, if they don't have the ability to dig themselves out, we can help them."
He said the need for snow removal is one of the few things that has remained a constant before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We plow out their properties," Winters said. "Whether they have a driveway or a parking spot, we'll do it."
Winters put out the call for more volunteer Snow Angels.
"The help doesn't have to come through CNA Stores," Winters said. "We are definitely going to have to bring in some other folks if we want to keep this growing."
"Scott has been spearheading this and he came up with his idea many years ago," DiFazio said. "He asked me if we could do it and I told him, 'Hell yeah!' It's a great thing and it is something that a lot of people need."
Doreen Arnfield, executive director of the Amesbury Council on Aging, said the Snow Angels have been a blessing for her seniors.
"This is great," Arnfield said. "We have been trying to get volunteers to shovel seniors out for years."
Seniors interested in free Snow Angels services can reach out to the Council on Aging at 978-388-8138 while Haverhill residents can call 311.
Shoveling a person's driveway out can be a very rewarding experience, DiFazio said.
"They come out and they are almost in tears because they didn't know how they were going to shovel themselves out," DiFazio said. "They ask you, 'Why are you guys doing this?' We tell them, 'Because we can.'"
Anyone interested in being a volunteer Snow Angel can call Winters at 978-241-4666.
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.