Columbia residents give helping hand to stranded motorists

Friday, February 22, 2013 | 6:24 p.m. CST; updated 5:22 p.m. CST, Saturday, February 23, 2013
Columbia residents spent Friday helping others and enjoying a day off in the aftermath of Thursday's snowstorm.

COLUMBIA — Thursday morning's snowstorm brought out the best in many people. Across town, they responded to stalled or stranded motorists with a helping hand. Here is a sampling of stories about the kindness of strangers. 

Fraternity aids stuck drivers

At about noon Thursday, a woman walked up and rang the bell at the Sigma Pi Fraternity house looking for someone to help push her car out of the snow on Providence Road.

She ended up being the first of many motorists assisted by members of the MU fraternity at 808 S. Providence Road, said fraternity president Charlie O'Neill.

A group of fraternity brothers set up folding chairs on a snowbank on the west side of Providence Road to assist drivers. 

"We had seen cars getting stuck all day and decided to go out there, enjoy the weather and help people out," junior Darrell Bass said.

The men were outside offering their services from noon to 4 p.m., O'Neill said. He estimated they helped at least a dozen drivers get back on their commute.

Country music radio station Clear 99 posted a photo of the fraternity members on its Facebook page Thursday afternoon, and 24 hours later, more than 4,000 viewers had posted "likes."

Said one commenter: "Wonderful to hear the good news for once. Thank you guys for restoring our faith in our young people."

One good deed begets more

Jared Klarfeld, the vice president of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, slid his car into a ditch Thursday near Jimmy John's restaurant on Providence Road.

With help from bystanders, he was able to get out of the jam. Minutes later, a woman swerved into the same ditch.

Deciding that one good turn deserves another, he stopped, summoned friends with a truck and they pulled her car out.

The group then pledged to help anyone in need along the way back to the fraternity house at 909 Richmond Ave.

A half-dozen guys ended up rescuing at least five people stalled or spinning in snow.

Twitter spreads a mission to help

The hashtag #ThunderSnowRescue promised swift help Thursday for motorists in trouble who posted their locations on Twitter.

The Missouri Student Association, Sustain Mizzou and other students were ready to respond to the alerts.
The idea started at an earlier leadership lunch at the LGBTQ Resource Center.

“We started discussing different leadership styles, and then we sort of made an impromptu decision to start this response team,” MSA President Nick Droege said.

Nick Drysdale, the secretary of Sustain Mizzou, joined Droege and others from about 2 to 4 p.m. in the area of Hitt and Elm streets and Virginia Avenue.

“I’m sure some probably got stuck again on Providence or something, but we were just happy to get them on their way,” Drysdale said.

Droege said the goal was to help out during the storm but also to spread the word about campus resource centers.

He said he didn't know how many people were helped.

“We weren’t in it for the numbers.”

One guy gave a hand while stalled in traffic

MU sophomore Joey Ukrop spent time Thursday pushing vehicles down Providence Road while his own ride was stalled in traffic.

Ukrop is from Michigan and said he does this on snow days back home.

“We spread the love,” he said.

Ukrop was headed to class from off-campus housing, but buses were not running. A friend offered a ride, and they ended up sitting for three hours on Providence Road.

While they waited, Ukrop said he saw a car ahead that was blocking traffic.

“I put on my gloves, put on my hat, got out of the car and pushed him out,” he said. “Four other guys came out and helped me.”

They spent the down time pushing cars and prying windshield wipers out of the ice. They were defeated by only one vehicle that refused to budge.

“People have a great mentality,” Ukrop said. “It’s great how bad weather can bring out the best in people.”

Even though his class was canceled while they sat in traffic, he said the time spent giving a hand was worth it. 

“You know what? This was a snow-day adventure,” he said.

Shoveling help needed for seniors

Now that the streets are almost cleared, a need remains to clear paths for local seniors.

The Boone County Council on Aging is looking for volunteers to shovel snow off porches, stairs, walkways and driveways to keep residents safe in their homes and to prevent injuries.

This can be a one-time volunteer opportunity or an ongoing partnership for the rest of winter, said Sarah Shetley, the council’s volunteer coordinator. 

From an original list of 25 seniors, 17 still needed to be paired with volunteers on Friday afternoon.

To apply, contact

Clearing walks and driveways for donations

The School of Metaphysics is offering a snow removal service to the community for a minimum donation of $20.

The fundraiser will help efforts to raise $1,000 for the building fund and school supplies.

Call (573) 449-8312 for more information.

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