Delivering more than just the mail

Published 11:09 am Saturday, May 1, 2010

Area letter carriers hope to tote about 10,000 extra pounds during their routes next weekend.

Austin members of the National Association of Letter Carriers will hold their 17th annual food drive Saturday.

City and rural residents are asked to put bags or boxes of food near their mailboxes by 9 a.m. Saturday, so postal workers and volunteers can pick them up for the Salvation Army.

Email newsletter signup

The effort is part of the Letter Carriers National Food Drive which takes place in 10,000 cities and towns across America Saturday.

The National Association of Letter Carriers is in its 18th year of the nationwide event which is the largest one-day food drive in the country.

Last year, 73.4 million pounds of food were collected.

Annual Food Drive

When: Saturday May 8, rain or shine

What: Leave bags or boxes of non-perishable food items by mailboxes before 9 a.m. Letter carriers will pick them up for the Salvation Army.

Plus: Food will also be picked up Friday and Monday.

Local letter carrier Bob Rosel is coordinating the event in Austin and said he is excited about a friendly competition between Austin and Albert Lea.

The city that collects the most food takes home a trophy and bragging rights.

“Of course the real goal is to collect as much food as we can for those in need. You can leave two or three items or two or three box-fulls,” Rosel said. “We’ll be out there rain or shine.”

According to Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity, one in four children reside in food insecure households, and one in six Americans is unsure of where their next meal will come from.

On average, Rosel said, Austin carriers collect 10,000 pounds of food each year. They hope to exceed that this year.

“The need for food has increased during this difficult economic time, especially for children and seniors,” he said. “And since many children do not receive school lunches, the demand is greater when school is out.”

To make it easier and to remind people to donate this year, Hy-Vee grocery bags will be dropped off at homes on Thursday or Friday.

“Last year, Albert Lea did this and they were very successful,” Rosel said.

In 2009, Albert Lea nearly doubled Austin’s total of just over 8,900 pounds.

At the city council meeting Wednesday, May 8 will be proclaimed Austin’s “Letter Carrier Food Drive Day,” which Rosel said hopes encourage people to donate.

“And we’re hoping that giving out bags will put us over that 10,000 pound mark,” Rosel said. “And hey, if we reach 15,000 pounds, that’s all the better.”

Carriers in Brownsdale, Dexter, Rose Creek, Adams and Racine will also collect food Saturday.

Those in Lyle and Grand Meadow had not responded about their participation as of Friday, Rosel said.

Students in the Austin High School Honor Society and the Austin Jaycees will also be out collecting bags.

Only non-perishable food items should be donated. Monetary donations to the Salvation Army will also be accepted. Food will also be picked up Friday and Monday, though letter carriers prefer that all donations are placed near mailboxes by 9 a.m. Saturday.