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Donations for local food bank to be collected by mail carriers

On Saturday, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) will host its 27th annual “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive, during which mail carriers in 10,000 communities across the nation will pick up bags of donated food left by mail boxes and deliver them to local food banks and pantries.

Every year, people pack bags full of non-perishable food items and leave them beside their mailbox to be packed up and donated to those in need throughout the community.

During their regular routes, the mail carriers pick up the donated goods and deliver them to the local post office, where they are sorted and packed by volunteers from local food banks.

This year, the NALC is asking for donations of canned meats, such as tuna or chicken, canned fruits and vegetables, boxed meals, pasta, rice, cereal and other non-perishable food items.

“This is an event we really look forward to every year,” said Selma Area Food Bank Executive Director Jeff Harrison. “It’s a win-win for everybody. Everybody gets a chance to support the community and support the food bank.”

Harrison took the extra step this year of sending bags to area post offices that could be delivered via mail and picked up Saturday full of donated food goods from area residents.

SAFB volunteers will arrive at area post offices around noon on Saturday and unload canned goods from mail trucks and sort them. Once the last truck comes in, the volunteers will load the goods onto a SAFB truck and deliver it to the food bank.

“We try to make it as easy on them as possible,” Harrison said. “It is a burden on the postal carriers to have to deal with that. Some of those bags will be pretty heavy.”

From there, area food pantries and other SAFB agencies can come and get what they need to provide for the people they serve.

“It’s extremely important,” Harrison said of the annual initiative. “It basically restocks our shelves when it comes to the canned good items. That’s something we deal with every day.”

Harrison noted that many of the agencies served by the SAFB are small and this effort provides a large amount of canned goods for them to choose from.

Harrison is expecting a “high yield” this year, despite the fact that some years produce “several thousand pounds” while others do not, because of the extra effort to provide backs to area residents.

“We’re hoping that will increase the poundage this year,” Harrison said. “We never really know what to expect. The past couple of years it was kind of hit or miss.”

No matter the outcome, Harrison is enthusiastic.

“It’s just exciting for us to see the community turnout,” Harrison said. “It doesn’t have to be a lot. We appreciate it all and it goes to such a great cause and it goes a long way.”