On Saturday, residents left over 10,000 pounds of food for their letter carriers to pick up along with the daily mail.
The Stamp Out Hunger food drive is in its sixth year for the area and expectations are that donations will be five times greater than last year.
“We still have three offices out — Shaw, Boyle and Ruleville,” said letter carrier Sherrie Crain. “So far we’ve collected 10,400 pounds of food. Last year were picked up 2,300 pounds.”
Crain said all the food items would go to Helping Hands, an agency of the United Way of Cleveland-Bolivar County.
Helping Hands Director Ollie Hoop said she wasn’t expecting as much food as was delivered to her office.
“This was a surprise. We’re starting to separate everything by year. We’ll box it up and stack it and give out food starting with 2013 first,” said Hoop, who added she’s running out of shelves and needs more.
Crain and Hoop both said they are overwhelmed by the generosity of Bolivar Countians and those nearby.
“The Merigold mail truck by itself brought in 1,000 pounds of food,” said Crain. “Duke Bush said last year he brought in 19 bags of food from his entire route. This year he had 19 bags from one street.”
Crain said she believes the paper sacks delivered to residents for the donations really aided in the increase.
“The AARP donated the bags. They paid for the bags to be delivered to the post office and then they paid the postage for the bags to be delivered to residents. I think the bags made the difference,” she said.
Crain added that Hoop said she would reuse the bags as people came in to get food.
Crain said Brown and Sons left the outside scale on for her so she could weigh the food.
“I drove my truck and the trailer of there and weighed it first and then weighed in loaded with food and subtracted,” she said. “I had five trailer loads with the back and seats of my truck full.”
Crain explained the letter carriers always do the Stamp Out Hunger food drive the second week of May to help those in need get through the summer months.
“So many people help out during the holidays, that’s why we do it now to help until then.
“I want to thank the people of Bolivar County and Cleveland,” said Crain with obvious emotion and excitement in her voice.
“This is what happens when people work together,” said Hoop. “I wish everyone could do that. Thank you.”
This is the 21st year for the nationwide Stamp Out Hunger food drive.
National Association of Letter Carriers partners with the U.S. Post Office, Campbell’s Soup and others to provide assistance to the millions of Americans struggling to put food on the table.
In 2012, letter carriers collected food donations from 10,000 communities. Last year’s drive also marked the ninth consecutive year that people donated more than 70 million pounds of food to the Stamp Out Hunger food drive.
But, with more than 50 million people, including nearly 17 million children, facing
hunger in America – the fight for hunger-relief continues.