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Stamp Out Hunger to Help Those in Need

Nonperishable Food (Credit: Michele Skalicky)

People across the Ozarks are receiving blue plastic bags along with their mail this week.  The National Association of Letter Carriers would like for you to fill those bags with food and household items to help the needy in the Ozarks.  KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has more.

Letter carriers will be extra busy Saturday.  Not only will they deliver mail.  They’ll also pick up donated food and other items that area residents leave out for the needy.  The annual National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger food drive is taking place that day.  You’re asked to place nonperishable food items as well as personal hygiene items and household items such as laundry detergent by your mailbox for pickup.  Ozarks Food Harvest donated blue plastic bags for you to put the items in, and letter carriers are delivering those with the mail today and tomorrow.

The NALC has been holding this event for 22 years.  Howie Cunningham, the local coordinator and a letter carrier, says he and his fellow postal workers see the need firsthand.

"'cause we're out there delivering six days a week, and we see the people in need, hurting, needing basic necessities, and this is our way to give back and for the community to give back to those in need," he said.

Last year, 108,000 pounds of food was collected locally, and Cunningham says they’d like to see that number doubled this weekend.

The food will go to area food pantries including The Salvation Army, Grand Oak Mission, Victory Mission and Crosslines.

Jim Harriger is executive director of the Victory Mission.  He says the food comes in right at the time when kids will be home for the summer.

"During the school year children get fed at school.  Our schools in Springfield do free lunches, they do free lunch.  If a family's in need, the children are always fed.  During the summer that responsibility really does go back to the parents.  Our food pantry being full these next two months really makes an impact for those families," he said.

Major Norm Grainger with the Salvation Army says they’ll start sorting the food Saturday night and put it in the food pantry immediately.  He says it will have an immense impact.

"Food pantries tend to--we work in peaks and troughs, you know, through the Christmas period we get a lot of donations.  When we get to spring it starts to fall off, so this is a vital time for that food to come through," he said.

Volunteers are needed to help sort the donated food at the Salvation Army Saturday and Sunday.  If you’d like to help, call the Salvation Army at 862-5509.

More than 1.3 billion pounds of food has been collected and distributed since Stamp Out Hunger began.

For KSMU News, I’m Michele Skalicky.