When the temperatures head south, so do geese, swallows, and snowbirds –residents of the Southern End who go to warmer states for a week, a month, or the entire season.
Some of those snowbirds are volunteers who deliver Meals on Wheels throughout the Southern End.
Finding drivers to fill in for the snowbirds is one of Solanco Meals on Wheels' new volunteer coordinator Diane Hastings' early priorities.
"It can be difficult to find more drivers in the winter," she said.
The service now has about 60 drivers and can always use more volunteers, Hastings said.
"We need about 100, regular drivers and substitutes, to make it run well," she said.
Most drivers do one day every other week. That's the preferred schedule because it gives the volunteers the ability to plan other activities.
The drivers are usually assigned to the same route each time. Many know two routes and several know all five routes.
"If a driver cannot go, they get someone to fill in, someone who already knows the route," Hastings said.
Before they can begin, volunteers have to go through a criminal background check.
"We pay for that and, so far, we have not had a problem," she said.
Drivers cover five routes a day, five days a week. Meals are not delivered on holidays and when Solanco's schools are either closed or delayed by weather.
"If we're not coming, we call everyone on the routes," she said. On those days, the clients have emergency meals provided in advance.
One goes south to the Chester County line. Another heads toward Maryland on Rt. 272. The others cover Quarryville, New Providence, and east to Georgetown. Each route takes between an hour and a half and two hours to complete.
The drivers pick up their meals at the Mt. Hope United Methodist Church kitchen before 11 each morning. The service has been working from that kitchen since its founding in 1967, sending out one hot meal and a bag meal for supper.
The local service now provides meals to 39 homes.
"We can do a maximum of 45," Hastings said.
Some of the clients receive the meals for a short period of time. They include people who are recovering from hospital stays. Others are long-time clients.
Many of them have two things in common - they are elderly and live alone.
That makes the service rewarding, she said
She and her late husband, Bob, began volunteering in 2010 and she is continuing to deliver meals.
"You get to know the people on your route and each stop we would take time to talk with them. For some, that would be the only contact they would have that day," she said. "If no one comes to the door, we have information for an emergency contact, including family members and a doctor."
Sometimes, the contact is called even though there was no emergency. "We called one time and it turned out he [the client] didn't come to the door because he was in the shower," she said.
Although they only see them once every two weeks, the drivers do build relationships with their clients.
"We get attached to them," she said. "It's satisfying to help someone who doesn't see a lot of people and we can do something that's not too strenuous."
To volunteer as a Meals on Wheels driver, call Hastings at 717-786-2388. If there is no answer, please leave a message.