05/12/18 — Local letter carriers help Stamp Out Hunger

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Local letter carriers help Stamp Out Hunger

By Joey Pitchford
Published in News on May 12, 2018 9:25 PM

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Volunteer Jim Pelech loads donated food items onto a trailer behind the post office on Cashwell Drive Saturday. Pelech is also a volunteer with St. Vincent de Paul that provides food and services to people in need.

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Carriers collected food donated by people on their routes throughout the day.

The shelves of several community feeding organizations will be well-stocked for the near future, thanks to the efforts of Wayne County's letter carriers and local volunteers.

The 24th annual Stamp Out Hunger letter carriers food drive took place Saturday, as postal workers picked up food while on their regular routes to be distributed to six receiving organizations across the county. Sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers, the drive began around noon, as carriers began to bring back non-perishable food placed outside near mailboxes along their routes.

Sheri Pietrangelo, a staff member with United Way, was one of the volunteers helping to coordinate and move food at the ost Office on Cashwell Drive. She stood outside behind the building with several other volunteers as they finished loading up the bed of her pickup truck with food ---- carried in Post Office bins.

"Most of the food is actually stored in buckets, but we ran out of those so we're using these bins, which will be returned to the post office afterward," Pietrangelo said.

While the final amount of food gathered was not yet available ---- there were still several carriers running routes and plenty of food yet to be weighed ---- Pietrangelo said that the Habitat for Humanity truck had left the post office earlier that day "completely" packed, and that was only at the Cashwell building. Last year's drive brought in a record 37,000 pounds of food, and the goal this year is 30,000 pounds.

After it is weighed, the food will be sent out to six receiving organizations, where it will put to use feeding the people of Wayne County. Those organizations are:

The Community Soup KitchenDomestic Violence Assistance ProgramHGDC Community Crisis CenterSalvation ArmySociety of St. Vincent de PaulMake a Difference Food Pantry

Pietrangelo said that postcards announcing the food drive were included in people's mail in the week prior to the collection. The drive covered postal codes 27530 through 27534.

It takes more than just the efforts of the carriers themselves to get all of that food where it needs to go. Volunteers from the 4-Day Movement along with representatives from each receiving organization helped to load and transport the food, with between 20 and 30 volunteers pitching in overall, Pietrangelo said.

Pietrangelo herself has helped with the food drive as a member of United Way for 21 years, and has been helping coordinate for the past 10. She said that the drive is often a lot of work, but seeing the need has kept her and others coming back year after year.

"Last year, we didn't get home until 10 p.m., and it's looking like another one of those days today," she said, as volunteers continued to pile up food in the 90-degree weather. "I think it's a great cause, I think it's important to help those less fortunate. I see the need for it and the benefit of it, so I guess that's what brings me back."