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Letter carriers to pick up food donations with mail on Saturday
Mike Walston loads up food on carts Thursday afternoon at the Chattahoochee Baptist Association’s Good Samaritan Ministries. The pantry is receiving a major donation from the post office’s annual “Stamp out Hunger” food drive, which collects canned food at homes when the mail is delivered.

When delivering the mail Saturday, your mail carrier also will be looking to collect something from you: a food donation.

Saturday is the National Association of Letter Carrier’s 17th annual "Stamp Out Hunger" food drive.

The postal service is asking customers who wish to make a donation to leave nonperishable food in a bag near their mailboxes Saturday.

The food collected will be distributed locally to the Good Samaritan Food Pantry.

Mike Walston of the Chattahoochee Baptist Association said the donation received from the "Stamp Out Hunger" drive is critical to keep the pantry stocked in the summer.

"We count on this every year," Walston said. "They usually pick up enough canned food items to help us for almost two months."

The drive is especially important this year because of how hard the economy has hit the pantry.

"As inundated as we are right now with people needing help, we can take all the help we can get," Walston said.

Kevin Cook, vice president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said the food drive has been successful in the Gainesville area.

"Last year we set a record with between 16,000 and 18,000 pounds," Cook said. "Previously, we only had 8,000 or 9,000."

Though Good Samaritan has been a traditional partner in the food drive, Cook said no organizations are excluded from participating.

"The reason we work with the Good Samaritan is because when we started this a long time ago they volunteered to send workers and trucks to the post office to pick it up the food from us," Cook said.

Kay Blackstock, the director of the Georgia Mountains Food Bank, said she is happy Good Samaritan, one of the bank’s partner agencies, will receive such a large donation from the drive.

"We always feel good about donations that benefit our partner agencies," Blackstock said. "We exist to serve them, not compete with them."

"Stamp Out Hunger" is the country’s largest one-day food drive.

Since 1992, 900 million pounds of food have been collected nationally. Last year, 200,000 pounds of food were collected in the Metro Atlanta area.

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