131207_20wc_Swails

Jane Swails

From an orphanage in the mountains of Haiti to the southern reaches of St. Joseph, the call to outreach resonated. Jane Swails enjoyed the scene that followed.

The South Park Assembly of God undertook a shoe collection for the orphans in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

“We're a little, tiny church, so when you collect 800 to 1,000 pairs of shoes, that's a lot,” Mrs. Swails said. “We had them lined up all the way around the walls of the church.”

The St. Joseph woman recognized the collection as another expression of people helping people they will never know, will never even see. For the most part, though, Mrs. Swails has directed her volunteer energies toward those needing help in her own community.

For at least 16 years, she has worked with the Southside Food Kitchen after having volunteered at the Open Door Food Kitchen in Downtown St. Joseph.

And for more than 22 years, the former City Hall employee has spent part of her summers at Camp Quality, a camp for young people with cancer.

Mrs. Swails discovered early that sad endings sometimes accompany this experience, but the camp usually proves uplifting.

“One of my campers is in her 30s now and has three children of her own. I think that's why you keep doing it,” she said. “I had two very healthy children, and I just wanted to give back. It's very, very, very, very rewarding.”

Friends describe her as never saying “no” when the call goes out for help. Plenty of people, she explains, still need help.