Letter Carriers plan May 10 food drive

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Shelly Birkelo
Friday, May 2, 2014

JANESVILLE—Members of the National Association of Letter Carriers are again taking the lead to stamp out hunger with their annual Letter Carriers' Food Drive.

Letter carriers in 1,200 branches nationwide, including those in Rock, Green and Walworth counties, will participate in the 22nd annual event Saturday, May 10.

Last year, with the help of thousands of volunteers, letter carriers nationwide collected more than 74.4 million pounds of nonperishable food—the second highest amount since the drive began in 1992. That pushed the grand total to just under 1.3 billion pounds.

A total of 40,290 pounds was collected in Janesville during the 2013 food drive and was divided equally between the food pantries at Everyone Cooperating to Help Others and the Salvation Army in Janesville.

Kathy Oliver, Janesville, is coordinator of drives in Janesville, Milton, Delavan, Elkhorn, Edgerton, Brodhead, Orfordville and Footville.

“Everything collected local stays local,” she said.

For example, everything collected in Milton stays in Milton, Oliver said.

Other communities will be conducting drives under the leadership of different letter carrier coordinators, she said.

Oliver shared seven things to know about this year's food drive:

1. To participate. Place nonperishable food donations in a sturdy bag at your mailboxes by 1 p.m. May 10.

“The earlier the better,” Oliver said.

2. To donate. Typical donations include canned soups, vegetables, meats, fish, pasta, boxed or bagged cereal and peanut butter.

Toiletries—soap, shampoo, toilet paper plus toothpaste and toothbrushes—also are welcome.

"No glass jars, please,” Oliver said.

“Don't put out expired canned goods because the food banks can't give that out. If it's expired, the food is going into the trash,” she said.

3.  Donation pickup. Letter carriers will collect food as they deliver mail along their postal routes. When their trucks get full, volunteers will meet them and empty their trucks.

“If they don't fill up, then we'll unload their trucks at the docks when they return at the end of their shifts,” Oliver said.

4.  Where donations go. Volunteers pick up food from letter carriers periodically throughout the day and take donations to Janesville's main post office, on Milton Avenue, where they are weighed on an industrial scale before being distributed.

5. To volunteer. Volunteers are needed for two- and three-hour shifts between 10:30 and 6 p.m. when they will drive to the letter carriers to unload their trucks. Volunteers also are needed at the post office to unload letter carrier trucks as they arrive.

6. Where the food ends up. In Janesville, the food is divided equally between the food pantries at the Salvation Army and ECHO. Food collected in other communities benefits the food pantries in those communities.

7. Don't panic. If residents see someone besides a letter carrier picking up food from their mailbox, it most likely will be a volunteer.

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