A Family of Snow Angels

A Family of Snow Angels

By Patrice Peterson 

           Three years ago, Jim and Jodi Ousley began looking for volunteer projects with their daughter, Madison, and son, Hayden. Giving back to others was initially encouraged through the children’s schools, but now each time the four of them volunteer together, it turns into a special event they refer to as “Forced Family Fun Time.”

          “We decided we wanted to work with seniors and provide some kind of service that would allow them to stay in their homes, which we feel is really important,” says Jim.  “We also wanted to be able to make an impact right here in Burnsville, so we called DARTS, and it’s a good fit.”

          The family started off together that first year in October with DARTS by raking leaves for a couple who lived nearby. As winter set in, they also volunteered as “Snow Angels” for Gail, another Burnsville resident. Since then, each time two inches or more of snow comes down, they all grab their shovels and head over to Gail’s house. Their hard work is followed up with a “Caribou Run” that gives them additional time together.

          “I like it – it’s fun to do it,” says Hayden, 13. “You feel good about yourself and kind of accomplished that you’re helping someone who couldn’t help themselves.”

          Madison, 16, agrees. “Sometimes in the morning, the rest of them want to get up and start shoveling really early,” she says. “I don’t want to get up, but once we get going, it’s fun. Hayden will throw snow at me, and all of a sudden you don’t realize you’re working – you’re doing something and you’re helping somebody.”

          In the past, Madison, who is a junior at Apple Valley High School, and Hayden, who is in the 8th grade at St. Thomas Academy, have both been involved in various volunteer activities through their sports teams. Doing it as a family is different, though, according to Jim, a police officer in Bloomington, and Jodi, a part-time accountant. They would highly recommend it to others.

          “You can’t let that family time pass, and it’s not easy to carve time out of their schedules,” says Jodi. “This is a ‘requirement’ for us now - a way to be together and give back at the same time.”

          Whether it’s raking leaves in the fall or shoveling snow at Gail’s house, the Ousleys understand they have it “pretty good” and “there’s more to life than iPhones and iPads.”

          Madison remembers two years ago when, “It snowed on Christmas Eve, and we didn’t open gifts until after all the shoveling was done. One way to look at it is that we can do this and they can’t,” she says. “I would want someone to do that for me when I get older.”


Volunteer as a snow angel this winter. Click here for more information or call Barb at 651-234-2254