The Mail Carrier “Stamp Out Hunger”

Food Drive
which took place on Saturday, May 10, was a good success, thanks to the generosity and compassion of the Oak Park/River Forest community postal customers-10,941 pounds of food donations was collected on that day to be distributed to local food pantries and organizations.


Last year, 10,515 pounds was collected from these communities. That makes this year a slight improvement of 426 pounds. Given the present state of this nation’s economy, it is heart-warming to see any increase at all in charitable donations over what was received last year. It is good to know that the Oak Park/River Forest community still has concern for those in need, despite the strain of the economy which undoubtedly is felt pretty much by everyone.


For the record, the highest amount of donations to this drive was 14,508 pounds in 1999. While we made an improvement from last year’s total, hopefully next year we can even surpass the 1999 total. I’m sure this is a possibility with this caring community.


Three local organizations are the recipients of this year’s

Mail Carrier Food Drive
donations: the Oak Park & River Forest Food Pantry, Sarah’s Inn (a domestic violence victim’s haven), and Vital Bridges (a community intervention organization). All three recipients have expressed the necessity of receiving donations from a drive such as this and have expressed much gratitude.


Kathy Russell, of the Oak Park-River Forest Food Pantry, has indicated they are now serving as many as 350 families a month, which was a 60 percent increase in just a year! The high gas prices do not make things any easier on those in need and may explain in part the steep incline of families in need of food.


The

Mail Carrier Food Drive
is the outgrowth of a tradition of community service exhibited repeatedly by members of the letter carriers union over the years. Carriers who go into neighborhoods six days a week have always been involved with charity and community efforts such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association, watching over the elderly through the Carrier Alert program, assisting the American Red Cross, and rescuing victims of certain catastrophes and mishaps.


For many years, a number of branches had collected food for the needy as part of their community service effort. Discussions were held by the Mail Carrier Union, U.S. Postal Service, and the American Federation of Labor to explore a coordinated effort. A pilot drive was held in 10 cities in October, 1991, and it proved so successful that work began immediately on making it a nationwide effort.


Input from food banks and pantries suggested that late spring would be the best time since by then, most food banks in the country start running out of donations received during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday periods.


A revamped drive was organized for May 15, 1993-the second Saturday in May-with a goal of having at least one National Association of Letter Carrier branch in each of the 50 states participating. The result was astounding. Over 11 million pounds of food was collected-a one-day record in the
United States-involving over 220 union post office branches.


From
Alaska to Florida and Maine to Hawaii, letter carriers did double duty-delivering mail and picking up donations. The food drive effort just grew and grew from that point.


As of 2007, 836.2 million pounds has been collected nationally.


Stephen R. May

Food drive coordinator, OP-RF Post Office

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