Mail carriers picking up food donations Saturday
BRANDON - This area’s letter carriers are gearing up once again for Saturday’s National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Campaign. Canned goods and other non-perishables left by mailboxes on Saturday will be picked up when mail is delivered that day. All of the items collected in the Brandon area will go to Emergency Care Help Organization, or ECHO, which provides necessities to families and individuals in distressed situations. Food collected in the Clair-Mel and Progress Village areas will go to the Hunger Free Mission. The Stamp Out Hunger campaign is the largest single-day food drive in the nation, held each year on the second Saturday in May since 1992. Some 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states and the District of Columbia participate.People across the nation placed 70.7 million pounds of food and toiletries by their mail boxes in 2012, bringing the total for the food drive to 1.2 billion pounds of food and other needed items. “We’re honored to be able to help people in need by leading an effort that brings out the best in so many Americans,” Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers 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.” With the bad economy, the need is greater than ever for food assistance, with some 50 million affected by it in this country, including 17 million children and 9 million senior citizens. This food drive helps ECHO get through what is otherwise a rather dry stretch for donations. Once supplies from the regional Feed the Bay effort begin to dwindle, this collection helps fill the void, said ECHO Executive Director Stacey Efaw. “This drive provides ECHO with approximately half of the non-perishable food items that it needs for the year,” Efaw said. “We need nearly 200 volunteers on Saturday,” she said. The drive needs volunteers to help unload letter carriers’ trucks at the four post offices – Brandon, Seffner, Riverview and Valrico. Volunteers are also needed from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Feeding America, at 4702 Transport Drive, Building 6, Tampa. Food will be brought to Feeding America and sorted there. To volunteer, sign up at www.echofl.org. “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 Stamp Out Hunger effort. Food donations should be left by the mail box on Saturday morning in a sturdy bag. For more information, ask a letter carrier, contact the local post office, or go to www.helpstampouthunger.com.