Letter carriers to deliver relief with food driveWritten by John P. McCartney | | email@example.com
No postage will be required to stamp out hunger May 12.
In partnership with the U.S. Postal Service, letter carriers across the nation will pick up and deliver free of charge any and all food donations during the National Association of Letter Carriers’ “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive campaign.
Locally, more that 850 Toledo-area letter carriers and retirees are expected to collect food donations on carriers’ delivery routes.
People are encouraged to leave their donations of canned or boxed food in plastic or paper grocery bags on their front porches or at the foot of wherever their mailboxes are located.
Letter carrier Don Munkacy, a 34-year veteran who has participated in all 20 food drives, says he expects Toledoans to respond generously.
“The people in Toledo have always come together to help other people,” he said. “It’s a sad state of affairs that [in] a country as rich as ours, 16 percent [of the people] are going hungry.
“I don’t know what the exact figures are in Toledo itself, but there are people that use these food banks. There are people out of work, and they’re getting assistance. You see that in the type of mail that they get delivered, so you know that they are hurting.”
Locally, the National Association of Letter Carriers union reports that all 683 active carriers and about half of the 327 retired carriers will collect food May 12.
Pat Munkacy, a 26-year-veteran letter carrier who has also participated in all 20 food drives, says most Toledoans have little trouble empathizing with their neighbors in need.
“You can’t help but think, ‘And there, except for the grace of God, go I,’ ” she said. “It could be you couple of years down the road. It could have been you five years ago. We’re all responsible to help each other.”
Toledo Branch 100 serves all of Northwest Ohio, from Sandusky east to Bryan and south to Bowling Green. Last year, Branch 100 letter carriers collected 183,409 pounds of food, the third-highest number of pounds from all Ohio branches.
Don Munkacy attributes that success to the letter carriers themselves and their ability to get the word out.
“Letter carriers probably are the most trusted government agents that come around,” he said. “They’re known in their neighborhoods and the people trust those carriers, and if the carriers say that there are people that need this, [the Post Office] will come through for them.”
Rebecca Paholak, Toledo Branch 100 food drive coordinator from 2005 through 2011 and a 10-year letter carrier out of the South Toledo substation, credits much of the success to the Post Office’s partnership with United Way of Greater Toledo.
She described United Way as “huge sponsors” who solicit money from local businesses to help cover local expenses that include flyers, yard signs, billboards and thank-you cards for the people and businesses that donated money and in-kind services.
Don Munkacy says he couldn’t do the job without the help of volunteers who include mail clerks, machine operators, truck drivers and the husbands, wives, and children of carriers who “work their tails off. It’s really nice to see.”
The food drive is held the second Saturday in May because at the drive’s inception in 1993, food bank and pantry personnel across the nation suggested a late spring drive. They reported that is the time when most food banks start running out of donations received during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday periods.
Pat Munkacy says the food drive, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, has “caught on because of the good feelings you get for doing it. You know you’re helping your neighbor. You don’t know which one of these people around here, or in any house, goes down to the food bank to get food.”
Greater Toledo area food collections will be donated to the Seagate Food Bank. The food collected at the 24 Northwest Ohio area post office substations in outlying cities and towns will be given to a local food pantry within that city or town’s boundaries so food collected in a community stays within that community.
Local results are due to the National Association of Letter Carriers headquarters no later than May 25. National results will be announced a week later.