The weather is warming, students are itching to leave school and food banks and pantries are hoping they will have enough to feed everyone who walks through their doors.
This is one of the many reasons why the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) hosts their annual “Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.”
This year marks the 27th year of the drive and letter carriers in Stephens County will be collecting canned food donations from homes on their routes. A sack should be dropped in the mail this week for citizens to use but any sack will do.
Residents are asked to fill up the plastic donation bag and leave it by their mailbox on Saturday, May 11. The food will then be collected by a letter carrier.
According to Penny Gardner, executive director of Christians Concerned, this drive carries them through to the summer on top of purchasing food from the Oklahoma Regional Food Bank.
“This is really a vital food drive for us — every year, since I’ve been here it has become less and less,” she said. “Last year there was less than 10,000 pounds of food which, we are thankful for every pound of food that we got, but we’re use to having 20 or 25 thousand pounds. That food carries almost to the end of the year, at least until November. In November people start doing fundraisers for the holiday time and they carry us through the end of the year.”
The drive is a national drive that the NACL puts on every year, and the United Way agency can plan for it.
“We still order (from the Oklahoma Regional Food Bank) but we don’t have to order as much — it makes a huge difference in what we do,” Gardner said.
Most needed items include: canned meats, meat-based soups, canned fruits, canned vegetables, peanut butter and rice and beans. No homemade items, nothing in glass jars and all items much be unopened.
Other items which Christians Concerned clients like are some of the boxed items like rice dishes.
“We don’t usually order those because they are expensive but they are always well received,” she said.
After putting the bag next to the mail, there are other things people can do to help.
“We need volunteers that day to help us, the community usually shows up, if they want to contact us on our Facebook page, or if they want to call us and let us know who is coming,” Gardner said. “You have to be at least 18 years or older, if parents want to bring their children they can but they have to supervise them because it can be a dangerous job, it is heavy and we are getting it in so quickly.”
According to the Oklahoma Regional Food Bank, donations collected in Stephens County will benefit Assumption Catholic Church, Bray Community Center Food Pantry, Central High School Community Food Pantry, Chickasaw Nutrition Center, Chisholm Trail Church of Christ, Christian Helping Hands, Christians Concerned, Duncan Rescue Mission, Ray of Hope Ministries, The Marlow Samaritans, Velma Community Outreach and DHS Stephens County in collaboration with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.
For more info about volunteering contact the Christians Concerned office at 580-252-9120 or via their Facebook page.