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Letter carriers to deliver help for needy

Published 9:00am Friday, April 23, 2010

By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star

For local food pantries it is one of the most affecting days of the year.

The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) will hold its nationwide food drive on May 8. On that day, postal workers across the country will once again pick up bags of canned good and non-perishable food items left out by residents to help those in need.

“Millions and millions of families are suffering – struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table,” said Frederic Rolando, NALC president. “Food banks, pantries and shelters need our help more than ever this year. As families count on them for support, they’re counting on us and we will not back off on our commitment.”

In the NALC’s announcement for this year’s drive, Rolando “also noted that donations are particularly critical at this time since most school lunch programs are suspended during the summer months and millions of children must find alternate sources of nutrition.”

Countless food pantries benefit from the donations collected during the drive, including the Niles Salvation Army.

“We have seen a lot of new faces, new people who have never been (in) the system, so to say,” Captain Bill Walters said Thursday. “That’s just one of the changing things of the times, we’re seeing a lot of people needing assistance right now.”

According to the NALC, “donations from this year’s drive are expected to push the overall total since the annual drive began 18 years ago to over 1 billion pounds.  The total currently is 982.7 million pounds.”

Walters, measuring the Salvation Army’s portion in poundage said he’s hoping to see anywhere between 11,000 and 12,000 pounds.

“(That) would be great,” he said. “More would be better.”

The postal drive is the Salvation Army’s biggest food drive of the year, Walters said.
Hopes for this year’s drive may be high all across the country but in Niles especially so.
Donations during the 2009 drive were significantly low, some said even as much as more then 20 percent lower than usual.

Last year’s drive was held on May 9. It was May 8 when the news broke that Niles’ largest manufacturing employer at the time, Tyler Refrigeration, would close, putting 500 area employees out of work.

One year later, Walters’ words on why the community should pull together and donate echo the sad reality many faced just one year ago.

“You never know,” he said. “You may be on the receiving end sometime. It’s just a matter of circumstances.”

Citizens are asked to leave their donations out by their mailbox for the one-day food drive.
And for those who want to go one step further, the Salvation Army is also in need when it comes to this year’s drive.

“We need lots of people, we need more people to help us cart it,” Walters said. “We need people to help us sort the items, we need people to lift it from the post office onto the truck.”

The Salvation Army needs volunteers and ideally their pick-up trucks to help load donations from the post office, take them back to the Salvation Army’s pantry and get the food sorted and loaded.

All of the donations will go toward the organization’s food pantry where items are bagged and a week’s worth of groceries is given to those in need of assistance.

For more information or to help out, contact the Salvation Army at 684-2720.

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