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Raise the red flag in fight against hunger

LOCAL LETTER CARRIERS are gearing up to “Stamp out Hunger.” Letter carriers are asking city and rural residents to leave nonperishable food items at their mailbox for pick-up on Saturday, May 9. Shown are, l-r: Gene Lashley, Help Agency volunteer food manager; Roger Singletary, Cairo postmaster; Steve Parramore, city letter carrier; Anita Ward, city letter carrier (food drive coordinator), and Priscilla Knight, city letter carrier.

The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) announce that the nation’s largest food drive to combat hunger will be conducted this year on Saturday, May 9. On that day, letter carriers will collect non-perishable donations from homes as they deliver mail along their postal routes.
Cairo U.S. Postal Service employees netted 4,000 pounds of nonperishable food items for Grady Countians in need during last year’s food drive.
All food collected is earmarked for Grady County’s local Help Agency which represented 4,196 clients and 13,801 household members in 2008.
Grady County Help Agency  Volunteer Food Manager Gene Lashley says the need for food has never been greater with the high level of unemployment locally. “We giving out more food than ever before,” he says.
Cairo Postmaster Roger Singletary challenges the community to unite together and equal or exceed last year’s figures. He says the post office is attempting to get the word out early and give locals more time to prepare for this year’s drive. Next week all postal customers will receive a post card detailing the program and its benefits.
Mail carriers will pick up all non-perishable food items such as canned meats, soup, juice, pasta, cereal and rice placed at city or rural mailboxes.
The 17th annual NALC National Food Drive to “Stamp Out Hunger” is the largest one-day food drive in the nation. Carriers collected a record 73.1 million pounds of food in last year’s drive. The drive is held annually on the second Saturday in May in over 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
Donations will be collected by more than 1,400 local branches of the 300,000-member postal union and delivered to food banks, pantries and shelters that serve the communities where they are collected. Assisting in the effort are rural letter carriers and other postal employees, as well as members of other unions and thousands of civic volunteers.
NALC President William H. Young emphasized that as successful as the food drive has been in the past, it simply must be even better this year.
“Millions and millions of families are suffering – struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table,” Young said. “More than ever food banks, pantries and shelters need our help this year. As families count on them for support, they’re counting on us and we must not back off on our commitment.”
Young also noted that donations are particularly critical at this time since most school lunch programs are suspended during the summer months and millions of children must find alternate sources of nutrition.
In New York City and Chicago, where transportation limitations preclude mailbox pickup, citizens are being asked to take donations to their local post offices between May 4 and 9.
Persons who have any questions about the drive at their location should ask their letter carrier or contact their local post office.
Over 125 million postcards, sponsored by the Campbell Soup Company and the U.S. Postal Service’s Priority Mail, will be mailed to postal customers to remind them of the drive.
Public Service Announcements featuring movie and television stars David Arquette and Courteney Cox, as well as the Harlem Globetrotters, are being made available throughout the country. Valpak Direct Marketing Systems is focusing 40 million of its envelopes on encouraging food donations and Valassis is having 85 million of its mail-delivered Red Plum wraps include promotions for the drive.
Other co-sponsors of the drive with the letter carriers’ union are Feeding America, formerly known as America’s Second Harvest, the nation’s food bank network; the United Way of America and its local United Ways; and the AFL-CIO.

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