WASHINGTON—Pickup day may be a month and a half away, but the Letter Carriers are already gearing up for their 25th annual “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive, the largest one-day collection of donated food for the hungry in the U.S.
Last year’s drive broke prior records, with more than 80 million pounds of food collected and distributed to pantries, food banks, homeless shelters, religious institutions and other charitable groups that feed the hungry, said Letter Carriers Community Outreach Coordinator Pam Donato, the drive’s director. This year’s drive is on May 13.
This year, there are a few new twists to add to the tons of food flowing in, she says.
One, available to Letter Carriers, their allies – including the AFL-CIO, the Rural Letter Carriers and the United Food and Commercial Workers – and postal customers is a one-stop online shop to order wearable and promotional food drive-related items, such as T-shirts, hats and buttons. The items come from a unionized promotional firm in the D.C. suburbs, and are at www.stampouthungerstore.com. The drive’s overall site is www.stampouthunger.com.
There are also English and Spanish public service ads, which will run in a national campaign promoting the food drive. The downloadable ads are in each Letter Carriers’ branch’s food drive tool kit, Donato says. Branch food drive coordinators can alert local media.
Donato also offered other ideas for broadening the scope of the food drive:
• Be a liaison to local community groups, religious institutions, veterans groups and middle and high schools. “They’re all fantastic places to find organization, compassion, energy and muscle” to help collect the food for the needy.
• Speak out about the food drive in public, including at city council meetings and by letters to local editors.
• Hang up posters – also in the branch’s food drive kit – and erect lawn signs.
• Recruit a local business to sponsor food drive bags. Past results show sponsored bags vastly increase food collections.
• Create a local “wall of honor” with pictures from food drive activities, to acknowledge and thank the Letter Carriers and other volunteers who participate.
The net result of all this, says Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando, will be even more food for those who need it the most.
“Letter Carriers see many” of the hungry “along our routes each day,” he told the Postal Record. “Our food drive can make a positive difference in the lives of those who have been dealt difficult hands.”