This Saturday, kindhearted citizens including those in our area can do their parts in helping to fight hunger.
The annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is held annually on the second Saturday in May. It is a charitable drive led by the National Association of Letters Carriers in the United States - including, yes, in all likelihood, your own post man or woman.
According to a bit of research, the program began as a pilot program in October 1991. It began in 10 cities and spread across the nation during subsequent years. Relying on input from food banks and pantries, it was determined that late spring would be a suitable time to conduct the drive. That is when banks and pantries become depleted following ambitious food drives over the Christmas season. Hence, the second Saturday in May was deemed as the big collection day.
A revamped food drive was organized for May 15, 1993, which was the second Saturday in May. The goal for the organization was to have at least one branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers participate from all 50 states.
Let's say it was a big success. The first year of the nationwide effort collected over 11 million pounds of food, which was a one-day food collection record in the United States. According to published numbers, in 2011 letter carriers collected 70.2 million pounds of food, which raised the total amount of donations over the history of the food drive to more than 1.1 billion pounds. Think about it. A billion-plus pounds of food as in a 1 followed by nine zeroes! Last year was the eighth consecutive year of collecting more than 70 millions pounds of food in one day.
This Saturday will mark the 20th anniversary of the program. Carriers in Salem and other nearby cities for years have warmly embraced this program. For those who have contributed in the past, a public thank you is well deserved. And for those who have yet to do so, we encourage you to act. Just leave canned goods or non-perishable food items next to your mailbox on Saturday. Postal workers, with assistance from Salem Fire Dept. members, will do the rest. Sadly, a reality is that there is a food shortage for many local families. Fortunately there has never been a shortage of kindness reflected by our citizens. This is another opportunity to help others. It's convenient too.