Postal carriers collecting food items

Published 2:12 pm Friday, May 11, 2007

NATCHEZ — Every day, postal carriers deliver and pick up important packages and letters, but Saturday, they’ll handle something different.

Natchez and Adams County letter carriers will be part of the nation-wide Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive this Saturday.

They’re asking residents to put out non-perishable foods by their mailboxes Saturday morning.

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“It helps people that need help,” local coordinator Frank Patti said. “This is what letter carrying is all about — helping others out.”

The annual food drive, run by the National Association of Letter Carriers, helps local nonprofits.

Anything from a single can to a bag of food would help, Patti said.

“People can put one can, two cans, or they can put 20 or 30,” Patti said. “It’s whatever they want to give. If everybody in the city and county would give one can, you’d be surprised how many pounds that is.”

Every bag of food stays local, Patti said.

This year, the food collected will go to the Guardian Shelter, the Sunshine Children’s Center, the Boys’ Club and the United Way Food Pantry.

The food donated to the food pantry will be a huge help, Director Ginny Avara said.

“I’m so excited about it,” Avara said.

“People get so excited when they come in and see a box of food. It’s not a whole lot, but to some people, it’s a milestone.”

The food will help restock their shelves and serve a need in the Miss-Lou that not everyone realizes exists, she said.

“Every can of food means something to somebody,” Avara said.

The food pantry can use all types of non-perishable food, but rice and high-protein foods like peanut butter and beans are especially useful, she said.

“But we appreciate everything,” she said.

Part of the food donated will help feed the children at the Sunshine Children’s Center.

That’s a huge plus, Director Matilda Stephens said.

“We’re a nonprofit, so obviously, any type of donation we get is important,” Stephens said. “This drive every year is what stocks our cabinets more than any other during the year.”

Because they never know how many children they might need to feed at any given time, it’s good to be prepared, she said.

“There’s a big need to be ahead of the game, as far as food goes,” she said. “We need some kind of reserve, and this will be a really big boost.”

The most popular food at the center is cereal — small boxes, big boxes, the children eat it all, she said.

“The kids love cereal, and it has a fairly extended shelf life,” she said.

For more information on the drive, call the Natchez Post Office at 601-442-4362.

“It’s to help people,” Patti said. “That’s what we do.”