Thursday, May 8, 2014
When postal workers pick up the mail this Saturday they’ll also be carrying off non-perishable food items.
The 22nd annual Stamp Out Hunger campaign will take place Saturday, May 10. The food drive is sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC).
Stamp Out Hunger is a national campaign; last year more than 74.4 million pounds on non-perishable foods were collected on donation day. Since its inception in 1992 the food drive has collected more than 1.3 billion pounds.
Although Stamp Out Hunger is a national effort, Lowcountry postal workers know the drive makes an impact at home.
“I just saw one of the food bank personnel the other day, and they said they count on us. They count on the NALC food drive,” said Sarah Scott, a local carrier and Summerville’s NALC union steward.
“The carriers here love it and the customers love it. They’re all proud to be a part of it. I’m just surprised to see how many people need help. It’s getting worse, the numbers [of hungry] are growing, but we have great participation.”
“We are so grateful to the letter carriers who do this every year,” said Holly Shinn, communications and special events director with the Lowcountry Food Bank. “It does come along in addition to their daily duties, so we understand the reason why it is so easy for members of our community to participate is because of the extra work the letter carriers do.”
Shinn said the food drive comes in the nick of time to prepare Lowcountry Food Bank for the summer rush. Historically there is a higher need for food in the summer months when children are out of school and utility bills are higher, Shinn said, but it’s also around late spring with holiday donations begin to run out.
Shinn said the food bank’s goal is to collect 400,000 pounds of food, which can be obtained if each person in the tri-county area donated one food item.
“Historically we haven’t reached that number but we’re hopeful. We feel [Stamp Out Hunger] is one of the easiest ways to donate because you don’t have to go any further than your mailbox.
It’s all about the letter carriers, year after year they continue to support us,” Shinn said.
Scott said in her experience Summerville residents are eager to participate. Her route, which services residential and commercial neighborhoods on Old Trolley Road, is just one example.
“My truck is loaded to the brim when I get back,” she said of the collection efforts. “It makes me feel awesome. I love my customers and they love helping out. I love seeing all the food and I like to brag when I get back [to the post office].”
According to Scott, postal workers have been advertising the campaign in mailboxes this week, providing residences with flyers and grocery bags for the event. Participants are instructed to leave their donations of non-perishable food items next to the mailbox for letter carriers to pick up on Saturday during their normal routes. Once collected the donations will be redistributed to local food banks and shelters.
“It’s an awesome experience. It’s helping here (in the Lowcountry). To me it’s better than Christmas.”