Dowagiac post office collecting donations for annual food drive

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Dowagiac’s brigade of postal carriers will be picking up more than just letters and packages from area mailboxes this Saturday.

The Dowagiac Post Office is again participating in the United States Postal Office’s annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, collecting items that they will donate to local food pantries. Residents are encouraged to leave canned soups/produce, boxes of cereals, or other nonperishable food in a bag by the mailbox  Saturday. The donations will be collected by postal carriers while making their rounds that morning.

Since its introduction 23 years ago, the annual campaign has collected more than a billion pounds worth of food for needy families across the country, according to news release from the USPS. Last year, postal workers collected 72.5 million pounds from American households. It was used to feed 30 million people.

The drive was a success close to home as well, with Dowagiac customers leaving 7,300 pounds worth of food for pickup, the most the office has received in a while, said Postmaster Leah Sovine. The items were then distributed to several local food pantries, including ACTION Ministries, St. Paul’s, First Christian Church, Keeler Church of God and St. Vincent DePaul.

“We keep it all local,” Sovine said. “All food collected in Dowagiac stays in Dowagiac.”

The post office’s 15th year of participation in the national program, employees are hoping to crack 8,000 pounds worth of donations this year, Sovine said.

The drive comes at a crucial point  for many pantries, Sovine said. By spring, many of these organizations are running low on stock, following the surge of donations seen around Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

“After we get done delivering food to these pantries, their shelves are bursting at the seams again, which is great,” the postmaster said.

The drive is also a showcase for the generosity of local volunteers, who help the postal workers pickup, sort and deliver the donated items Saturday. An average of 25-30 people show up to help that morning, which usually includes retired postal workers and students, Sovine said.

“We couldn’t do it without our volunteers,” she said.

People who want to donate to the drive before Saturday can do so by dropping off food at the post office, located on Commercial Street downtown.

“We appreciate anything at all,” Sovine said. “You don’t need to feel like you need to leave us a huge bag full of groceries. Every little bit counts, and goes toward our total.”