SIKESTON -- Local letter carriers are hoping to pick up some canned goods when they deliver mail during their regular routes Saturday.
As part of the National Association of Letter Carriers' Stamp Out Hunger! food drive, most post offices are participating in the annual campaign to collect nonperishable food items and deliver them in the community.
Local post offices on Thursday were busy distributing reminder cards to let residents know it's time for the food drive.
Steve Schoemaker, shop steward of Branch 343 in Sikeston, said the post office in Sikeston has been involved in the food drive for the past six or seven years, said
"We have a pretty good response," Schoemaker said. "We normally average around two tons of goods that we pick up."
The fundraiser runs smoothly, Schoemaker said and it doesn't require additional staff for the day.
"It is a little extra work, but everybody's doing it on their own," Schoemaker said.
Letter carriers simply pick up the sack of canned goods placed around the mailboxes on their routes, bring them to the post office and unload them.
Sikeston's post office donates the items it receives to the Bootheel Food Bank in Sikeston, which delivers food to the hungry in 16 Southeast Missouri counties.
"We appreciate the public's assistance with the campaign because we rely on donations," said Karen Green, executive director of Bootheel Food Bank.
Of course there are several other avenues for post offices to donate the canned goods, Schoemaker said.
"It's all about keeping everything local," Schoemaker said.
Kristy Hill, postmaster at the New Madrid post office, estimated about 800 to 1,000 pounds of food items are collected in New Madrid each year. The food items are donated to the Ministerial Alliance in New Madrid.
"You'd be surprised by how many people actually donate," Hill said.
East Prairie postmaster Ricky Sipp predicted the town's letter carriers will collect several hundred pounds of food items on Saturday. Its collection will be distributed to one of the local factories, he said.
"This office has done it for several years," Sipp said. "This community is very good about supporting our food drive."
To help the campaign, leave a sturdy bag containing nonperishable foods, such as canned soup, canned vegetables, pasta, rice or cereal next to the mailbox prior to the time of regular mail delivery on Saturday. Food items should be in nonbreakable containers, such as boxes and cans.
"If you could avoid donating anything in a glass container because things get piled on top of one another and they could break," Schoemaker suggested.
Residents will know whether their post office participates in the campaign by the postcard reminder they receive in the mail, the post office employees said.
Sponsored by Campbells's Soup Co., the effort -- which is in its 15th year -- is the nation's largest single-day food drive, having collected more than 765 million pounds of food since 1993.
According to America's Second Harvest--The Nation's Food Bank Network, 35 million people are food insecure, hungry or at risk of hunger. About one in four people in a soup kitchen line is a child.
Knowing there's a real need for the food items, it's nice to make a difference, Schoemaker said.
He said: "It's a great feeling to participate in this (effort) knowing across the nation you're just another cog in the wheels."