WINNSBORO — Rural mail carriers will deliver more than letters and packages Saturday thanks to a program aimed at fighting hunger.
The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) conducts its 21st annual food drive. Residents are asked to leave non-perishable food items in their mailboxes, or attached to their mailboxes in plastic bags. The carriers will collect these items and donate them to the Fairfield Community Food Bank.
Winnsboro Postmaster Mickey Gibson said the food drive is a major contributor to pantries nationwide. The local focus is something he is proud of, though.
“Even at our local Fairfield County food banks, one church cannot fill up all the shelves and one organization, such as Rotary Club, cannot fill up all the shelves,” Gibson said. “It’s very simple to put food in your mailbox for our carriers to collect as they come by. This one day is a huge outpouring of support that is amazing to see.
“Amazingly, we find that people living in the poorer communities typically give the most (food),” he added.
He said the comments the postal service receives from area food pantries in Camden, Bishopville and Columbia are that the largest contributors to those food banks is this food drive.
Gibson thinks that people in poorer areas donate more because know, or have known, what it is like to go without.
“My carriers say they hardly pass a mailbox in those areas without collecting food,” he said with pride.
To give is easy: place nonperishable food items inside your mailbox and put the flag up or put the food in a plastic bag and hang it on the mailbox. Canned soup, canned vegetables, canned meats and fish, pasta, rice or cereal are some of the items needed.
Last year, letter carriers collected 70.7 million pounds of food donations along their postal routes, bringing the total to 1.2 billion pounds for the NALC’s food drive, which began in 1992.
“We’re honored to be able to help people in need by leading an effort that brings out the best in so many Americans,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said. “Six days a week, letter carriers see first-hand the needs in the communities where we work, and we’re committed to helping meet those needs.”
The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive never has been more important than in these times, with hunger a growing problem – affecting about 50 million people around the country, including 17 million children and nine million senior citizens. Pantry shelves filled up through winter-holiday generosity often are bare by late spring.
And, with most school meal programs suspended during summer months, millions of children must find alternate sources of nutrition.
“The timing of the food drive is important, and that’s why we selected the second Saturday in May,” said Pam Donato, who coordinates the NALC’s Stamp Out Hunger effort.
The nation’s largest single-day food drive, it is held annually on the second Saturday in May in 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. Continuing the tradition begun by his father, Bil, Family Circus cartoonist Jeff Keane has provided special promotional food drive artwork featuring the familiar characters of Billy, Dolly, Jeffy and P.J. helping to carry a sack of food out to the mailbox by the curb.
“We want to say ‘thank you’ in advance for the generous donations here in Winnsboro,” said Gibson. “All the food you put out for our two city carriers and seven rural carriers will feed the hungry locally through the Fairfield Community Food Bank.”
People who have questions about the drive in their area should ask their letter carrier, contact their local post office, or go to http://www.helpstampouthunger.com/, www.facebook.com/StampOutHunger, or www.twitter.com/StampOutHunger.
Contact Kevin Boozer at 635-4016 ext. 14 or email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @kevinboozer.