Volunteers needed for letter carriers’ food drive

Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT The Niles Salvation Army is looking for more volunteers like Jan Personette, left, Ronnie Smith, middle, and Shani Zinn to help out with the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.

Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT — The Niles Salvation Army is looking for more volunteers like Jan Personette, left, Ronnie Smith, middle, and Shani Zinn to help out with the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.

The single most important food drive of the year for local food pantries cannot happen without volunteers.

That is why the Niles Salvation Army is in the process of recruiting at least 75 people willing to help with the National Association of Letter Carriers’ annual “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive.

Hosted on the second Saturday each May for the past 23 years, the drive collects millions of pounds of non-perishable food items each year. Last year’s drive brought in more than 70 million pounds of food for shelters across the country.

This year’s drive is May 14.

Food collected locally goes to the Niles-Salvation Army food pantry, Redbud Area Ministries and the food pantries at St. Mary’s and First Presbyterian churches.

Kolleen Bennett, the volunteer coordinator at the Niles Salvation Army, said volunteers are needed to help collect, haul and sort food.

“If it wasn’t for volunteers we wouldn’t be able to do the event,” she said. “We need at least 75 throughout the day.”

Morning and afternoon shifts are available. Bennett said this event is great for youth groups and service groups looking for a community service project.

Below are the available volunteer positions and an explanation of duties:

• Route runners — Assist carriers collecting food on their routes in the morning.

• Haulers — Help unload food stationed at the post office. Shifts are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2 to 6 p.m.

• Sorters — Help unload and sort donations at Embassy Church. Shifts are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 3 to 7 p.m.

People interested in volunteering are asked to sign up in advance by contacting Bennett by phone at (269) 684-2660 or by email at kolleen.bennett@usc.salvationarmy.org.

Bennett said she needs at least 70 more volunteers.

“We want people to get involved in their community,” she said. “There are people out there that are hungry and need this food.”

People who can’t volunteer for the post office drive are encouraged to sign up to volunteer for one of many other opportunities at the Salvation Army. More information is available online at saniles.org.

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