Stamp Out Hunger seeking volunteers

By SHERIDAN ROY

STAFF WRITER

The 27th annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive, a national movement of the National Association of Letter Carriers carried out by communities, is planned for Saturday, May 11.

Every second Saturday in May, letter carriers in more than 10,000 cities and towns across America collect donated items from their postal customers and distribute them to their local food banks. More than 1 billion pounds of food has been donated since the start of this initiative.

In Southington, three food banks will benefit from this year’s food drive: Southington Bread for Life, Southington Community Services and the Tabernacle church’s food pantry.

“We are so grateful for the support of the Southington community in helping provide non-perishable food to BFL through the postal food drive,” said BFL director Donna Ayer. “Those who donate food through the bags provided on your mailbox help us meet our mission to ensure that no one is hungry in our community.”

Mail carriers pick up donated items in bags next to mailboxes while they deliver mail along their regular routes. But on the day of the food drive, volunteers are enlisted to travel along mail routes to assist in the collection. Ayer said BFL thanks the many volunteers who provide support to the postal workers and help pick up food bags around town.

“The postal food drive makes a big difference and we thank everyone who helps with this community event,” said Ayer.

Once collected, items are divvied up between the three organizations.

“The program is amazing,” said Tabernacle food pantry co-director Sally Farrell. “We get a lot of food that we’re able to put out in the coming days and weeks. It’s such a blessing.’

The Tabernacle food pantry is open to the community every other Tuesday and Saturday. The schedule can be found on their website or posted at the church.

“There are more people in Southington than you would expect who are hungry,” Farrell said. “This program comes to their aid.”

Director of SCS Janet Mellon said the timing is perfect for the food drive.

“We are short on a lot of foods right now, so we are very grateful that this is coming up,” said Mellon. “Our busy season begins July 1, so this food drive helps us stock up for that and be prepared.”

SCS is low on items such as macaroni and cheese, snacks, pasta, soup and canned meals.

“This is a great event that gets everyone together, all working together for the needs of the town,” said Mellon.

On Saturday, May 11, from 9:50 a.m. to noon, items will be collected and returned to the Southington Community YMCA Learning Center. Items can also be dropped off any time between May 1 and May 10 at the YMCA. On the day of the drive, simply leave donated items next to your mailbox, and a mail carrier or volunteer will retrieve it.

Locally, the Southington YMCA’s “Togetherhood” is the organization’s signature program for social responsibility, said membership director Jacquelyn Seeger.

“Togetherhood invites Y members and community members to lead and participate in volunteer service projects that directly benefit our community,” said Seeger. The Togetherhood committee meets each year to establish three areas of focus, and one of those focuses this year is hunger. The YMCA’s volunteer recruitment for the Stamp Out Hunger drive is one way the Togetherhood committee accomplishes its efforts to serve the community.

“Every day on our routes, letter carriers see the struggles many people have with providing for their basic needs,” said president of NALC Fredric Rolando in a press release. “We are honored to be able to contribute to the families and the communities we serve by helping millions of Americans who otherwise would face hunger.”

The United States Postal Service, National Association of Letter Carriers, National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, AFL-CIO, United Way, Valassis and Valpak Direct Marketing Systems all support this year’s Stamp Out Hunger food drive.

To volunteer with the collection, contact YMCA membership director Jacquelyn Seeger (860) 426-9526.

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