Every year, Wilson Chapel in Turkey and others depend on the local community to fill bags with non-perishable items for local postal carriers to pick up on their routes. Each year, the community and its carriers have delivered.
Another 5,000 pounds of canned and dry goods will benefit those who need it in the Clinton and greater Sampson community thanks to the National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, the nation’s largest one-day food collection effort. This past Saturday marked the 24th straight year the drive has been held.
Local donations were given to four beneficiaries, including Wilson Chapel, First Baptist Church at 408 College St., Mr. Window’s Soup Kitchen and U Care Inc.
City carrier Eddie Monk, who spearheads the coordination of the collection effort for the post office, said he was happy with another great response from the community.
“I think it went real well,” said Monk, who said more word of mouth, as well as advertising, helped boost awareness. “It makes your heart feel good when you help someone.”
Thomas E. Sampson, a rural carrier with the local post office, echoed those thoughts, saying he was glad to play a small part in the outreach.
“It was real nice to be able to pick up food to help the needy,” Sampson said, “and we really appreciate the community’s support.”
There was 4,888 pounds of dry and canned goods collected Saturday, items that were picked up on Wednesday by representatives of the benefiting organizations. Carolyn Lassiter said she appreciated the donation, calling it “tremendous.”
“We ask church members to bring food every Sunday and we put it on our bulletin every month,” said Lassiter, a volunteer for Wilson Chapel in Turkey, who praised the post office for its annual collection effort. “Whenever they take this up, it really fills in where other people either do not contribute or cannot afford to.”
The food is distributed through its missionary circle and the church’s food pantry. Throughout the year, Lassiter said people are often low on food during certain periods of the month.
“Sometimes we run short,” she pointed out. “This really is a blessing.”
On Wednesday, Lassiter was joined at the local post office by fellow Wilson Chapel member Hattie Morrisey, who similarly lauded the efforts of everyone and expressed thanks for the donors in the community, as well as the carriers who collect them.
“It’s a tremendous help with meal preparation,” Morrisey remarked. “It’s a blessing for people to do this.”
Teresa Underwood, with First Baptist Church, said the church has a weekly soup kitchen and puts together food boxes to feed those who need it, along with preparing hot meals on Thursday nights for shut-ins and visitors dining at the church. In all, First Baptist’s outreach serves to feed well over 500 people a month.
“We use this donation to supplement that,” Underwood noted. “We’re feeding about 140 people a week so any extra assistance helps.”
Held in early May every year, the Stamp Out Hunger food drive has become the nation’s largest single-day food drive. In 2015, 71 million pounds of food was collected, worth an estimated $150 million. At least 70 million pounds of food has been collected by letter carriers in each of the past 12 years. Since its inception through last year, the drive has collected more than 1.4 billion pounds of food.
“It is gratifying to see so many NALC members and other volunteers sacrifice their time and energy to make sure this humanitarian effort is a success, year after year,” NALC President Fredric Rolando stated. “I’m sure that the recipients of our efforts appreciate it.”
During the campaign, residents were asked to leave sturdy bags of non-perishable food items for mail carriers to pick up. Along with the churches, community organizations such as U Care and Mr. Window’s Soup Kitchen were also recipients of the food donations, which will be served to needy people that participate in both organizations.
Mr. Window’s provides meals to the public and were thankful for the donation to their cause, as were representatives of U Care, which serves victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
“This will help those victims,” said victim advocate Sunny Wilkins, who loaded the goods, bin by bin, onto a truck with the assistance of U Care worker Matthew Millen, who also assists at the Bee Hive thrift store.
With 49 million people facing hunger every day in America, including nearly 16 million children, the drive is a way for donors to help those in their own community who need it. Morrisey thanked everyone for giving to the cause.
“I’m not sure they know how much this is appreciated,” Morrisey said. “It will help out a lot of families.”
For more information about the annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive, visit www.feeding america.org and www.nalc.org/commun/fooddrive.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.