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Letter Carriers Plan Food Drive; Need 'More Than Ever'

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
May 11, 2017
Posted in: Announcements

(Above: Members of the McKeesport Lions Club and letter carriers help collect food donations during the 2016 Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. Photo courtesy Lions Clubs International.)

For the past few days, McKeesport-area postal workers have been delivering paper bags for this weekend's food drive.

Retired letter carrier Chuck Jarrell hopes Mon-Yough residents respond this Saturday (May 13) like they did last year, when people served by the McKeesport post office donated enough canned, dry and non-perishable foods --- 24,421 pounds worth --- to fill three trucks.

"We had fantastic support last year," says Jarrell, who retired five years ago after more than 35 years of service with the United States Postal Service. "People in McKeesport are very generous."

"But the need is more than ever," he says. "There are so many people who need this help through no fault of their own --- whether they've been laid off, or they're working a job that's minimum wage."

Postal workers through the United States will be collecting items on Saturday morning as part of the 25th annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers union.

Jarrell said residents who want to make a donation should get it out and next to their mailbox as soon as possible on Saturday morning, because volunteers, including members of the McKeesport Lions Club, will be hitting the streets early.

Residents can use one of the special bags donated by the United Food and Commercial Workers union and other sponsors, Jarrell says, or simply use any sturdy bag and mark it "donation."

"Unfortunately, we only have 500,000 bags this year, and there are 830,000 houses" in the six counties served by NALC Branches 84 and 332, Jarrell says. So the letter carriers' union is economizing by only delivering the bags to private homes and not to apartment complexes, he says.

Residents may also drop off their donations at their local post office on Saturday morning, Jarrell says.

"We've tried to make it as easy as we can," he says, "but it is helpful if the people would get items placed out as early as possible, near their mailboxes."

The greatest need is for items that you can "make a meal with," he says. Proteins like tuna fish and pasta are always useful, Jarrell says.

But there is also a need for cleaning products and personal care items --- soap, toothpaste, hygiene items --- because "they can be kind of expensive" and can't be purchased with benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as "food stamps."

No glass bottles or jars should be included in donations, Jarrell says.

Any items collected in the McKeesport area stay in the McKeesport area, Jarrell says. Items collected in White Oak ZIP code 15131 go to that borough's food pantry, while items collected in 15132, 15133 and other McKeesport post office ZIP codes go to local food pantries via the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank in Duquesne.

For more information, visit http://www.stampouthungerfooddrive.us/

Originally published May 11, 2017.

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