MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Fifty-six years ago came the words Jim Holt wasn’t expecting to hear: “I got orders for you to Vietnam and I can’t get you out of them.”

Now the Air Force veteran is fighting life’s battles on two other fronts – Parkinson’s disease and advancing age. Both are making simple household chores, like shoveling snow, out of the question.

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“I can’t do it anymore at all. I tried running the snow blower the last storm we had and it was almost impossible. I just couldn’t do it,” said Holt.

However proud and deserving veterans like Jim are getting a helping hand. Elk River’s “Beyond the Yellow Ribbon” program will match needy and deployed veterans with willing volunteers.

Jay Grammond, a committee member, said “last year we started getting several requests for snow removal.” His committee is looking for more volunteers to help out. That’s because the demand is outstripping the supply of shovelers.

“It’s a nice little thing you can do and often with their own equipment, if you want to go run their blower or shovel, they have it and you just have to show up and do it,” said Grammond.

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Beyond the Yellow Ribbon has been used in other desperate situations to buy Christmas gifts, groceries, or even replace a faulty furnace. Funding to meet those various needs requires a constant flow of monetary donations.

However the snow on a driveway requires little more than a warm heart and a strong back.

“Not too much of a time commitment, it goes a long way,” said Grammond. Community members volunteer their time to help folks like Holt, lending a hand to those who’ve given us so much more.

“It’s been a Godsend program for me,” said Holt.

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For more information or to volunteer, click here.