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Mower, Freeborn mail carriers break food records

Mower and Freeborn county mail carriers delivered more than mail on May 13.

The counties each broke records in the annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive with Freeborn narrowly beating Mower in a friendly competition. Mower collected about 19,037 pounds of food and Freeborn 19,500, which far exceeded Mower’s record of 15,000 pounds in 2009.

“This one kind of blew right through that number,” Food Drive Coordinator Bob Rosel said.

“It was a bit surprising, but in a pleasant way,” he added.

The National Association of Letter Carriers and the National Rural Letter Carriers Association collect food each spring on a Saturday and donate the items to Salvation Army, where it is distributed to local families.

All food donated in Mower County will be used to help people in Mower County.

According to Rosel, the food drive raises an average of 10,000 to 12,000 pounds worth of food. Last year, the drive raised over 14,000 pounds.

Rosel chalked up the increase in donations to a few factors. For one, highs in the 80s and sunny conditions on Saturday encouraged people to get out and participate. The drive also switched to leaving paper bags in mailboxes for donations, which Rosel noted need more food to appear full than plastic bags, which he guessed led to more donations.

Austin Area Chamber of Commerce ambassadors again helped out by collecting food, which has happened the last few years after the groups joined forces.

“The more we can supply the food shelves the better it is,” Rosel said.

Rosel thanked the United Food & Commercial Workers Union, the Austin High School National Honor Society and the American Legion for help with the drive, and he thanked all the citizens who contributed.

“I’m really grateful to the generous citizens of both Mower and Freeborn counties,” Rosel said.

—Michael Stoll contributed to this story