Ask Mo Seward why she’s been such a loyal York County Food Bank volunteer for such a long time – three years and counting – and she just scoffs. “There are people here – Josie, Karl, Irene – who have been volunteering for 20 years or more. I’m a newbie!”
Newbie or not, she has no trouble explaining her devotion to the cause.
For one, she’s very aware of food security issues, and the impact a lack of nutrition can have on children. “As a person who grows food and loves food, being able to contribute and help people around food issues is really important to me,” she says.
Second, there’s the variety of tasks and the appeal of her fellow volunteers. “You never know what you’re going to end up doing when you come in,” she says. “We’re moving skids of food around with pallet jacks, and hauling up steel doors and sometimes we’re just bagging crackers. And I love the people I work with here. We’ve become friends and they’re wonderful people, wonderful to hang around with.”
Finally, and most importantly, there are the people who benefit from the Food Bank team’s collective effort.
“On Fridays especially, with our Food for Families program, you get to actually meet people – week after week after week – who collect a huge amount of food. It’s a real spectrum of people, because for this program, anybody can come.”
For the majority of participants, she says, it’s a God-send. “I’m sure for some families it’s a way to help juggle their finances. If they can get food, then paying the gas and electric bill gets easier. But for other people, they need that food.”
Giving comes naturally to Mo, thanks in part to her father, who modeled the giving life. She tells two stories to illustrate her point.
When one of his colleagues lost his sight, Mo’s dad, a voracious reader, found a book that he thought might prove inspirational. So he read the book aloud and recorded it on tape for his friend. This was long before “Books on Tape” became part of the pop culture.
Another time, as the Christmas season was unfolding, Mo’s dad informed her and her siblings that, instead of exchanging a lot of Christmas presents among themselves, they were going to make Christmas special for an impoverished family that lived nearby. After buying a number of gifts, Mo’s father directed her brother to take the box up through the woods and sneak it onto the family’s back porch. The only problem, Mo says laughing, was that they had dogs – mean dogs – chained to the porch.
Nevertheless, the gifts were dropped off close enough to be discovered and after Christmas, Mo says, “We saw their little kids getting on the school bus with new mittens and boots and things like that.”
“That was my dad, if he saw a need, he wanted to fulfill it.”
He understood the meaning of “neighbors helping neighbors.” And, clearly, he passed along that understanding to his daughter.