MOSES LAKE — Mail carriers deliver packages, letters and (alas) bills to residents all over town. But this week they’ve been carrying something extra the other direction: food.
The 25th annual Stamp Out Hunger drive by the National Association of Letter Carriers kicked off in full force Saturday, as carriers picked up donations of non-perishable food and brought them back to the post office. From there the bounty was trucked to the Moses Lake Food Bank. Saturday was the biggest day for donations, according to Bruce Baker, a retired mail carrier who still participates in union activities, but donations continued to trickle in all week.
Drive coordinator Tina Kunjara said that 20 carriers participated in the drive, as well as some clerks and family members who also pitched in. This year’s drive had brought in 3,586 pounds of food as of Thursday, Kunjara said, which is down from previous years. Last year’s drive brought in 9,218 pounds, and the record haul was 12,385 pounds in 2006.
“Most of our contributors have been contributing the full 25 years, but it’s slowly diminishing,” Baker said. He attributed the decline to several factors, including the fact that other organizations are also having food drives. Also, he said, it’s getting more difficult get the word out.
“Corporate entities won’t post the signs (advertising the drive),” he said. “The small businesses will. The big stores, the management says they sympathize, but the corporation won’t allow them to.”
Of course, each pound of food that makes its way to a hungry person counts, and the people who depend on the food bank are happy to see it no matter where it comes from. In addition to the food donated by the community, the union voted to donate $500 in cash to the food bank to help subsidize its operations, Kunjara said.
“We want to thank everybody who helped out and donated,” Kunjara said. “We appreciate it all.