Now in its 25th year, the Annual Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger® Food Drive is gearing up to make a difference once more.
Mail carriers throughout the county—and the nation—will collect food donations as they deliver and collect the mail on Saturday, May 13. Food Drive Coordinators Dean Roy and Cheri Murray said mail carriers will collect the nonperishable food items along each of their routes in Weston, Jane Lew, Camden, Alum Bridge, Horner, Walkersville, Ireland, Orlando and Lost Creek.
“A lot of times, when they (people and organizations) do the food drives, they do the holidays: Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas,” said Angela H. McElwain, Supervisor for the Weston Post Office. “We’re going into the summer months. A lot of those families out there don’t have the things that they need to get through the summer months, so the time of year that the National Association of Letter Carriers decided to do this food drive is benefiting those families in need, at a time when you don’t have all those other resources or places in the community conducting these food drives.
“This time of year is perfect to help these families get through the summer months when schools aren’t in session and kids don’t necessarily have access to the summer meals,” McElwain added.
Roy said the carriers see the need on a daily basis.
“They’re out there everyday,” Roy said. “They see these families every day, and they really want to give back... The food we collect helps people in the local area.”
The food collection in Lewis County will benefit Our Neighbors, and the items will be distributed by the pantry to local families in need.
“We really appreciate them, and they do a wonderful job,” said Our Neighbors Director Sandy King. “They work so hard for that. I know it has to make a difficult day for them, and they are so willing to do it.”
Roy, who also is the vice president of the Weston Post Office, Local #4458, said more than just the post office professionals volunteer their time and efforts to make the collection run smoothly. Everyone in the office, as well as many outside the office, get involved in the process in various ways. Often carriers are followed by their spouse and kids who help collect and transport the donations, as well.
Veterans, family members and volunteers with Our Neighbors are known to help in the post office annually to weigh, sort food, check expiration dates and more. Postmaster Brian Keismore collected donations from businesses.
Roy said he has a deep appreciation for everyone who helps out.
“A lot of work goes into it, but it’s a really fun time,” he said. “It’s worthwhile.”
Roy said there are five rural routes and four city routes. Citizens who receive mail via a post office box, rather than at home, are still able to donate. A hamper will be available at the post office for anyone who would like to bring their donations in.
Last year, carriers in Lewis County collected several thousand pounds of donated food items, according to a press release.
Letter carriers, volunteers and and other postal employees band together to make the drive happen each year.
“It’s just always been a great help to our food pantry and just a great boost for the families that need help, and they’ve just done a wonderful job through the years,” King said.
Acceptable items include canned soup, canned juices, pasta, canned vegetables, cereal, rice, etc. No items in glass containers will be accepted. Residents should place any food donations near their mailboxes.
“It’s amazing how fast it goes,” King said, adding that after a large donation, people often comment that the pantry looks like it’s in good shape, but shortly later, when it starts to look empty, they change their minds.
King said food is donated by many organizations at different times, and it is definitely a need within the community.
“I think we’re all seeing more of a need all the time because of the job situation,” she said. “Many people have lost jobs in the last two or three years, and it just seems like business is going out. We have quite a number of families in Lewis County that are working at minimum wage. As you know, it’s almost impossible to support a family on minimum wage, especially if you’re a single parent. It’s just very, very difficult.”