Inside the Clinton branch of the U.S. Postal Service, mail carrier Eddie Monk helped volunteers pack crates loaded with food into vehicles Friday afternoon.
Usually, mail is stored inside, but thanks to the generosity of the community, the containers were filled from top to bottom with food collected to the post office’s annual Stamp Out Hunger Drive.
Monk, local organizer for the campaign, enjoyed people a part of it. “It makes your heart feel good when you help someone,” Monk attested.
The National Association of Letter Carriers, United States Postal Service, Campbell Soup Company, Feeding America and other organizations participated in the annual effort. During the campaign which began May 9, residents were asked to leave sturdy bags of non-perishable food items for mail carriers to pick up.
“It was raining that day so we had to bring the water and the food in,” Monk said about the work of the carriers.
Monk was touched when a mail carrier brought back a hand-written letter from a little girl, Mia Paragin, who wrote: “I want to help people so much, so this food will help.” Collectively, local residents collected about 6,000 pounds of food.
“I really hopes it benefits people in Sampson County and surrounding areas, whoever they may be,” Monk stressed. “We look forward to doing it next year.”
Community organizations such as U Care Inc. and Mr. Window’s Soup Kitchen, were recipients of the food donations, which will be served to needy people that participate in both organizations.
The volunteers from each organization were grateful for the work of the post office and other residents. “We want to thank the post office for helping us out,” said Larry Robinson of U Care, a prevention program for domestic violence and sexual abuse. “It’s a great opportunity for the community and the ladies of U Care.”
Tonya and Oscar Bennett III of Mr. Window’s Soup Kitchen help provides meals to the public and were thankful for the donation to their cause.
“We are so grateful,” Tonya said while preparing to load the items. “We try our best to provide everything that we can, so any assistance we get, we appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts.”
Local churches picked up items as well. Carolyn Lassiter, a volunteer for Wilson Chapel in Turkey, was joined by Hattie Morrisey. The food is distributed throughout its missionary circle and the food pantry. Throughout the year, Lassiter said people are often low on food during certain periods of the month.
“That’s what God put us here for,” Lassiter said about reaching out a helping hand to one’s neighbor. “It’s to help out people who are in need or can’t help themselves. The pastor says we’re supposed to help widows, orphans and anyone else in need.”
Like Lassiter and Morrisey, volunteers of First Baptist Church of Clinton’s soup kitchen said it’s a good feeling to help people. The food collected at the post office will provide meals for many people.
“A lot of people have a hard time trying to make ends meet,” said Vonnie Marshburn of First Baptist Church, which offers a soup kitchen once a week. “This is a way to help.”
Held in early May, the Stamp Out Hunger food drive has become the nation’s largest single-day food drive. Last year, more than 72.5 million pounds of food was collected and fed 30 million people. According to a news release from the USPS, 2014 marked the 11th consecutive year that at least 70 million pounds of food were collected by letter carriers. Since its inception, the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive has collected more than 1 billion pounds of food.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 50 million Americans are at the risk of being hungry. That amount includes 16 million children who are struggling with hunger. Also, 4.8 million seniors are having to face choices of paying rent, bills and having food.
For more information about the annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive, visit www.feeding america.org and www.nalc.org/commun/fooddrive