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Letter carriers pick up canned goods, too
Annual event helps stock local food pantries
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Stamp Out Hunger
What: Food drive sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers
How: Put canned and dried goods by the mailbox
When: May 8

Mail isn’t the only thing local letter carriers are interested in this week.

Around the nation, letter carriers are gearing up for Saturday’s annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive in which they pick up food donations along with mail.

Each year for 17 years, customers have set their nonperishable donations out by the mailbox on the weekend of Mother’s Day for letter carriers to collect and distribute to food banks across the nation.

The impact of the day’s donations gets at least one local food pantry through the summer months, said Mike Walston of the Chattahoochee Baptist Association.

Last year, the drive netted about 20,000 pounds of food, which fed local families in need for three months, Walston said.

The event is billed as the nation’s largest one-day food drive, according to the event website. For about a decade, the Chattahoochee Baptist Association has been the beneficiary of the local letter carriers’ efforts.

“The rule of thumb is that it has to stay locally,” said Kevin Cook, an organizer for the local effort.

And as the nation has struggled through economic recession, the number of people who are “at the mercy of whoever can help them,” has grown over the last two and a half years, Walston said.

In 2006, the association served 4,200 families who were in need he said. Last year, that number hit 6,000.

“That’s giant,” Walston said.

Normally, he said the local food pantry has to purchase food from the Atlanta Food Bank. The organization runs completely off donations, and the letter carriers’ food drive takes the pressure off the association to purchase food for a few months, he said.

“This just takes a giant burden off of us financially here,” Walston said. “...It’s a donation that we really pretty much depend upon every year now.”

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