Life Lessons on a Snow Day: Mother, kids dig cars out of snow in Lancaster

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LANCASTER, Pa. -- With the School District of Lancaster on its third straight snow day, Kathi Graham decided to put her two kids to work shoveling snow. Yet, with her home dug out and cleared since Sunday, the mother of two from nearby Lancaster Twp. took her kids elsewhere.

"These guys are sitting on their butts not doing much," she said. "Lets go out. Lets work."

On Wednesday, their work took them to Lemon Street in Lancaster. Kathi, her son Jason, 15, and daughter Rachel, 14, grabbed their shovels out the trunk of mom's minivan. They were supposed to dig out a friends car, but Kathi called an audible when she saw the car parked behind it.

A minivan with a license plate which signified its owner was handicapped sat covered on four sides by a 2-foot wall of snow.

"We don't know who owns this van," Kathi said. "We got over here and saw this and thought maybe this might be the better option."

The Graham Family goes to work, chopping at the snow layer by layer. It's heavier than expected, Kathi says, as she lifts a chunk on her shovel and walks it over to a nearby growing snow mound off the sidewalk.

"It's more about teaching them to be good stewards of the community," she says of the volunteer work she and her two children are doing. There are always going to be those who need help and you may be that person one day."

She says she got the idea to help from the Facebook page "Dig Out Lancaster County." Its co-creators, Andrea Gillhoolley and Claudia Esbenshade, both work for Lancaster Online. They wanted to come up with an outlet for people, specifically the elderly, who needed help clearing snow from their streets and cars in the aftermath of last weekend's storm to request volunteer work.

"People, I think, put their problems aside and try to help each other and that’s what we were hoping would happen," Esbenshade said. "Things like this bring a community together, and we wanted to help to do that."

As Kathi, Jason, and Rachel continue to clear a path for the minivan to drive away, an older woman opens the front door at a home directly in front of where the Graham's are working.

Mary Lilly identifies herself as the van's owner. She is initially confused, wondering why people she didn't know were shoveling out her car. Eventually, she smiles, appreciative of the Good Samaritans who randomly showed up to help.

"This is wonderful. It's unbelievable," says Mary, who hasn't been able to leave her home since Friday, except to start her car on Sunday so the battery wouldn't die. "It puts a lot of faith into humanity to see people are willing to help others."

Even though Lancaster's schools are closed, Kathi Graham knows she's been able to give her two children a lesson they wouldn't receive in any classroom.