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#ShovelItForward: Kindness crossing borders?

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Yfat Yossifor/The Bay City Times/AP Photo/File

(Read caption) Carissa VanHoey and Autumn VanHoey, both 11, play and shovel snow from the driveway Monday, Feb. 2, in Bay City, Mich. As snow continues to pummel the Midwest and the Northeast, a social media campaign called #ShovelItForward is encouraging young people to help elderly neighbors shovel their walks.

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For the sick and the elderly, shoveling snow is not just a drag – it can be downright dangerous.

A social media campaign that first popped up in the Midwest is hoping to help ease that burden by calling on able-bodied people everywhere to grab their shovels and dig out their neighbors’ walks.

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#ShovelItForward has now gone viral. In Connecticut, local teens Josh Elphick and Nico Bartelli offered to shovel a foot of snow from a neighbor’s walk so that her heating oil could be delivered, ABC affiliate WTNH-TV in New Haven reported.

“It puts a smile on my face, so I enjoy it,” Mr. Bartelli told WTNH. “I try to do what I can from time to time.”

In Canada, auto retail company Canadian Tire has taken the hashtag to a new level with a dedicated website that includes an interactive map and infographics about shoveling safety.

#ShovelItForward began when local firefighters in Greenfield, Wis. were called in Sunday to take an elderly man to the hospital after he suffered what the fire department described as a cardiac emergency while trying to clear his driveway, NBC reported.

Their task done, the firefighters went back to the man’s home and finished his shoveling for him. One neighbor snapped a photo, which has since received more than 23,000 likes on the Greenfield Fire Department's Facebook page.

“Anyone can make a difference,” Greenfield fire chief John Cohn told CBS News.

The trend, if it continues to stick, could prove a relief to a lot of senior homeowners: The barrage of snow that began at the end of January is expected to last well into next week in the Midwest, New England, and upstate New York, according to The Weather Channel.