Postal food drive set for Saturday

Published 10:18 pm Thursday, May 7, 2009

When they head back to the Post Office after delivering the mail on Saturday, there’s a good chance that Suffolk’s letter carriers still will have full loads.

In place of the envelopes, magazines and parcels, though, carriers will be hauling food donated by customers all over the city.

It’s part of an annual campaign by the National Association of Letter Carriers, and Suffolk’s members have been participating since it started in 1991. Last year, according to Marc Adams, Suffolk’s carriers picked up 12,000 pounds of food to donate to the Southeast Virginia Foodbank.

Email newsletter signup

Adams, a 25-year veteran letter carrier and president of Branch 1112 of the carriers’ union, said the drive represents a chance for carriers to perform a service for their community.

“There’s a buzz in the air,” he said on Thursday. “We try to stay upbeat about it, because this is our chance to give back … to take this day to give back to the community.”

Adams is spearheading the effort in Suffolk, but the drive will take place nationwide, with carriers in more than 10,000 cities and towns across the nation participating.

Last year, more than 73 million pounds of food were collected across the country, bringing the total for the first 16 years of the program to 909 million pounds.

With foodbanks suffering across the nation, the drive comes at just the right time, Adams said.

“We’re basically stocking the Foodbank from June through December,” he said.

Carriers have been delivering notices to area residents this week, asking them to put nonperishable food in their mailboxes, at the curb or on the porch — depending on where their mail delivery usually takes place — for pickup on Saturday.

This year, Adams said, Farm Fresh grocery stores have partnered with the NALC to help raise donations, encouraging customers to leave food in boxes at the stores this weekend for pickup on Monday. Campbell’s Soup is participating at the national level by donating a million pounds of canned food and helping to pay for the postcards announcing the drive.

Postmaster General John E. Potter has been a longtime supporter of the drive and has “asked for the full cooperation and enthusiasm of postal management at all levels,” according to an NALC press release. Since the collections take place while carriers are “on the clock,” that cooperation is vital to the project’s success.

The generosity of area residents is just as important, and Adams thanked postal clients in Suffolk for their support through the years.

He also stressed that carriers will be willing to go the extra mile on Saturday to collect the food items and encouraged residents whose donations may have been missed to call him at 646-6538 to coordinate pickups.