Edie’s “Hug Mobsters” spread love and healing everywhere they go
Edie Moser started a mission to spread love through hugs and put together a flash mob offering free hugs to anyone who needed one. And after she had a heart attack, she was surprised to see that her mission could also help hundreds—including herself!—heal
Edie Moser stood inside 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, smiling as she raised her sign above the teeming crowd.
Hug Mobsters: Armed with Love, it announced to passersby. Catching one man’s eye, Edie called out, “Would you like a hug?” Her heart swelled as he made his way to her.
For the then 55-year-old, wrapping her arms around this stranger was just the mission she and a dozen friends had set out to accomplish. After reading about the free hug “flash mobs” popping up across the world, Edie was so inspired by the idea that she decided to form one of her own. And as the social worker looked around, she was overjoyed to see hundreds stopping to participate.
“I’m an Iraq war veteran,” the man she’d just hugged confided, tears welling in his eyes. “I was the only survivor of my platoon and have struggled with survivor guilt…until I met you folks. Can I join you?”
Arming him with one of the group’s signs, Edie watched as their new recruit dashed around the station, doling out hugs with a grin. And, at the end of the hour, as she collected her sign and said goodbye—with another hug—to the stranger, Edie beamed at how much lighter he seemed.
Suddenly, goose bumps prickled her skin. “We’ve got something here,” she said to her friends. And in her heart, Edie knew she couldn’t stop.
A heart-healing act
Over the next four months, Edie put together several more free hug flash mobs, bringing comfort and joy to hundreds of folks in her area.
But one day, her new passion hit a wall when Edie had a terrifying heart attack. After recovering, doctors suggested a daily walk as part of her cardiac therapy. So Edie readily walked around the center of her small town of Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
“It’s definitely helping,” she assured her concerned friends and family. But one day, while walking down the sunlit sidewalk, it struck her that she already had the best therapy tool in her arsenal: the power of a hug.
“Excuse me!” she called out to a woman walking past with a friendly smile. “Would you like a hug?”
The stranger happily agreed, and Edie opened her arms and folded her into a warm embrace. Closing her eyes, Edie let her anxieties and concerns fall away for a full 20 seconds, fully enjoying the heart-to-heart contact. When they finally broke the hug, Edie saw in the stranger’s eyes that the hug had brought her joy, and they parted with a thank-you.
But as Edie made her way down the street, she realized something inside her had changed as well. The hug had forced her to slow down, breathe deep and be mindful of the moment— all essential tools for healing. But it had also flooded her heart
with joy, peace and something she knew she and many others could benefit from: the ability to quietly show someone love, and most important, to feel loved in return.
A ripple effect of joy and love
Combining her walking therapy with “hugging therapy,” Edie made her way around town and into local businesses, offering hugs to anyone and everyone who wanted one and became a local celebrity in the process.
And the hugging did not stop there. Edie began connecting with other huggers through a Facebook group she created, called Hug Mobsters Armed with Love and began hugging her way through street festivals, art shows and parades across the state of Pennsylvania. She eventually decided to extend her hugging prowess to Oregon; Washington, D.C.; New York City; and during a trip on her 60th birthday, to the streets of Ireland! In each place, participants smile, laugh and even cry, when they accept a hug from Edie. “There’s a lot of love transmitted in that gesture!” one hug recipient said. “Even if they don’t realize they do, everyone needs a hug!” said another recipient. For Edie, who also offers life coaching at Opti-mystical.com, filling that need is her passion. “We are all connected and we all need love,” she smiles. “In a society divided by so many things, hugs have the ability to bring us together. I want people to know that we all have the capacity to love and be loved. Whomever I get to hug, I want them to know they are loved—and in return, I have helped my own heart heal, literally and figuratively!” —Alexandra Pollock
“Whoever I get to hug, I want them to know that they are loved!” says Edie