Sedalia and Pettis County residents and businesses can help “Stamp out Hunger” by participating in the National Association of Letter Carriers annual food drive Saturday.
Letter carriers began delivering blue plastic tote bags Tuesday and will continue Wednesday. Residents and businesses are asked to place nonperishable food items in the bag and leave it by their mailboxes early Saturday morning. A donation envelope is also included in the tote for those who wish to leave a monetary donation.
Julie Taylor, a United States Postal Service letter carrier with the Sedalia Post Office and the coordinator of the local food drive, said there are approximately 25 letter carriers and nine rural route carriers who will participate in the drive.
“Actually this is all voluntary,” she noted. “They don’t have to do it.”
All of them are volunteering, plus many others from Sedalia’s National Association of Letter Carriers No. 106 Auxiliary, Open Door Service Center, Post Office management and postal retirees. The event is a full spectrum endeavor.
“It’s not just the letter carriers, we have help from lots of people,” Taylor added. “If we didn’t have volunteers, the letter carriers’ bags get really heavy carrying all the food. We didn’t have volunteers our first year, all the letter carriers did it themselves.”
“The Auxiliary for many years has been helping out with the food drive, finding volunteers, and working with the coordinator from the Post Office here, ” said Linda Hoffmann, National Letter Carriers Auxiliary No. 106 president.
“The first national food drive was in 1993,” Taylor added. “Our first one here in Sedalia was in 1995.”
Taylor said the food drive is an annual event that takes place in more than 10,000 cites across the U.S. on the second Saturday in May.
Taylor suggested that people donate nonperishable, non-glass food items.
“Last year, in Sedalia, we collected a little over 15,000 pounds (of food), and over $3,000 in cash donations,” she said.
Cash donations go to The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri in Columbia, while food donations are given to Open Door Service Center in Sedalia.
Taylor explained why the letter carriers began the food drive.
“We touch every address in America at least six days a week,” she noted. “We see firsthand what what’s going on in neighborhoods and the reality. Across America one in six people face hunger, so that’s how this got started.
“This is the largest one-day food drive in the United States,” she added. “It’s not just in Sedalia, this is nationwide.”
The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri Western Regional Coordinator Darren White delivered 17,000 blue totes to the Sedalia Post Office early Tuesday morning. He said this is the 24th year for the event.
“The Food Bank provides the blue bags for the drive and we partner with the Post Office, this is their food drive,” he said.
He added that funds are also appreciated.
“The food bank can acquire 15 pounds of food for $1,” White said. “Last year we collected over 15,000 pounds in food and over $3,700 in funds. So, with that purchasing power the funds go a long way.
“This year we have a goal of 16,000 pounds of food and $5,000 in funds,” he added.
If the monetary goal is met this year, the benefit to the community is more than 90,000 pounds of food.
“The need is great …” White noted. “This is a great drive to be a part of, to serve those who are in need.”
The National Association of Letter Carriers annual “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive is Saturday. Taylor suggested people set bags of food by their mailboxes around 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Volunteers will come by and pick up the bags; volunteers will be recognizable by food drive shirts or by a food drive sign on their cars. Bags may also be delivered to the Sedalia Post Office at 405 E. Fifth St.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.