Mail carriers collect over 8,400 pounds of food

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Austin's letter carriers deliver.

They collect and deliver mail every day and food annually on the National Association of Letter Carriers food drive.

That's what happened Saturday in Austin. NALC Branch No. 717 of the letter carriers' union collected more than 8,473 pounds of food.

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Mike Leidall, president of the letter carriers local union, expressed the branch's appreciation to all who donated.

"It was great," he said. "We really appreciate everyone's generosity."

The Salvation Army Austin Corps staff was elated with the response.

Among the efforts to feed the hungry, The Salvation Army has a free community meal serving schedule that increases to four nights a week later this month.

Also, The Salvation Army hosts the summer feeding program Monday through Friday, beginning June 9 and continuing to the end of August.

Heidi Garcia is the new caseworker assistant hired with a grant from the Hormel Foundation.

Garcia will work under the supervision of Salvation Army staffers Pat Wright and Lori Espe and focus on recruiting volunteers to serve the community and summer feeding program meals as well as assist ethnic minorities seeking other help from the Austin Corps.

Saturday's NALC food drive was needed, said Major Doug Yeck, officer in charge.

"What this does is help us get through he summer," he said. "There's no other food drive until the fall and winter and yet the need goes on constantly."

Helping with Saturday's food drive project were volunteers from Girl Scott Cadette Troop No. 348 and Junior Troop No. 4.

Jessica Theis, 15-year-old Austin High School freshman, said the Girl Scouts enjoyed assisting, because "helping the community means we're helping people who need it."

"Definitely, there's a lot of satisfaction for all of us in a community service project like this," Theis said.

One-by-one the Austin letter carriers returned to the U.S. Postal Service headquarters with mail and food Saturday afternoon.

Marshall Halverson and Jason Soltau were waiting to help the carriers unload the food they collected and weigh it before turning it over to The Salvation Army.

Tom Gilson, a 26-year veteran letter carrier, brought back 150 pounds of donated food and then returned with a second load of 210 pounds of food from the greater downtown Austin area.

In all, the letter carriers collected food from 24 city routes and five rural routes.

More donated food items are expected to be collected early this week from people who were gone Saturday.

This marked the 11th annual NALC food drive. The NALC partners with the U.S. Postal Service to conduct the drive. Austin has participated for the last nine years.

Lee Bonorden can be reached at 434-2232 or by e-mail at