Dowagiac mail carriers stamp out hunger

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, May 7, 2014

(Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

(Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

Volunteers with the Dowagiac Post Office are planning a special delivery for a few local food pantries this weekend.

The local branch of the U.S. Postal Service will host their annual food drive on Saturday as part of this weekend’s Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, organized by the National Association of Letter Carriers. The post office began collecting non-perishable food items such as canned goods or boxed cereal from people this week, in hopes of surpassing the 7,475 pounds of food donated last year, said Supervisor
Janet Moelaart.

This year’s food drive will support three local food pantries: First Christian Church, St. Vincent de Paul and the ACTION Ministry Network, Moelaart said.

“We always do well for this little town,” she said.

Around 12 to 20 volunteers will help deliver the collected food on Saturday, sorting them into individual collection baskets and hauling them over to a few pickup trucks for delivery. Even a few of the mail carrier’s children get involved with the work, Moelaart said.

“It’s a very rewarding day, and a very rewarding experience,” she said.

Despite only starting a few days ago, the collection process has been going well, the supervisor said. On Monday, the post office received a $100 monetary donation for the drive from a man who wished to remain anonymous.

“When I asked him for his name so we could write a letter thanking him, he said that wasn’t necessary,” Moelaart said. “He said shaking my hand was enough for him. It was the highlight of my day.”

The Dowagiac food drive is just one of hundreds of such food drives held nationally this weekend. Last year, the postal service collected 74 million pounds of food, helping to feed an estimated 30 million people.

“You’d be surprised by the amount of food we receive every year,” Moelaart said. “Some people leave us a couple of cans, while others leave us a couple grocery bags.”

People interested in contributing to the food drive can do so by dropping off non-perishable food items at the post office itself, located on Commercial Street downtown, or by leaving the goods inside or outside their mailbox. Perishables or homemade items will not be accepted.

“Please give if you can,” Moelaart asked. “It’s not just needed in Dowagiac, it’s needed everywhere.”