Rice, peanut butter, cereal, pasta and canned fruits and vegetables will be among the items postal carriers will be collecting this weekend during the nation's largest one-day food drive.
Local letter carriers will join others in thousands of cities and towns nationwide to collect food this Saturday, May 11, as part of the National Association of Letter Carriers' 27th annual "Stamp Out Hunger" food drive.
Carriers will collect nonperishable food donations left beside or in mailboxes and post offices. The food will be delivered to local community food banks, pantries and shelters.
Since the drive began, total donations have surpassed 1.6 billion pounds of food. The U.S. Postal Service reports that more than 43 million, or 1 in 7 Americans, is food insecure, meaning they are living in risk of hunger and not knowing where the next meal is coming from.
Orangeburg donations will be given to Cooperative Church Ministries of Orangeburg.
Longtime CCMO volunteer Ray Sabalis was among those at the Orangeburg post office Tuesday morning to help kick off this year’s volunteer effort
Sabalis said the food is appreciated and needed.
“There is a year-round need for food. This is a huge project for the postal workers. We appreciate it because it comes at a time of year when food donations are less likely from the community," Sabalis said.
She added, "This project really provides a wonderful service for our community with the food that comes in."
CCMO, located at 889 Russell St., is open from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
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Norman Brown, acting coordinator of the local "Stamp Out Hunger" drive, said the Orangeburg post office gets support from area branches including Cope, Bamberg, North, Bowman, Denmark, Neeses, Norway, Rowesville, Santee, St. Matthews, Vance, Springfield and Branchville.
Brown, a city carrier, said, "We know it’s a need, and it’s also an opportunity for us to give back to the community, give back to the customers and to the people as a whole. It’s not just local, it’s national. Everyone needs that helping hand.”
Canned meals such as soups, chili and pasta; 100% juice; peanut butter; macaroni and cheese; canned protein such as tuna, chicken and turkey; and canned or dried beans are among the desired food items to donate.
Items that are not accepted are rusty, outdated and unlabeled cans; glass containers; homemade items; and open or used products.
Brown said postal customers will be receiving notification cards, along with plastic bags that can be used for donated items. A bin will also be placed in the lobby of the Orangeburg post office for food items.
Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, and Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, lauded the Orangeburg post office's efforts to support the annual food drive.
"I’m just always grateful to the postal workers for what they do in collecting this food. I try to put some out every year and am grateful for their consistency in doing this each year. I just appreciate them for it," Cobb-Hunter said.
Hutto said, "It is important. You never know when a family is going to be in need. It’s all the community pitching in together to help those who need it the most. I appreciate the post office doing this annually because we think about this when a hurricane comes around or there’s some emergency, but actually need happens all the time.
"So having good volunteers in the community being willing to help, and then having the whole community pitch in is a wonderful thing.”