Letter Carriers aim to Stamp Out Hunger

Published 9:03 am Thursday, May 12, 2016

One girl’s giving spirit lives on through the generosity of others every year as a national food drive is held locally in her honor.

This is the second year Amy Melton has worked with the Vicksburg Local Branch 94 of the National Association of Letter Carriers, the U.S. Postal Service and the United Way of West Central Mississippi to coordinate a local food drive in memory of her daughter Kimmy and in conjunction with the annual nationwide Letter Carrier Food Drive called “Stamp Out Hunger.” This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday.

“Last year we raised 14,600 pounds, and I’m hoping to do a lot more than that this year,” Melton said.

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Kimmy was a student at Warren Central High School who enjoyed giving back to the community, especially through the donation of food.

“She wasn’t a typical teenager,” Melton said.

Each year on her birthday, Kimmy asked friends and family to donate food to The Salvation Army, and her mom has carried on the tradition every year since Kimmy passed away in 2012. Since 2015 Melton has been coordinating her efforts with the national food drive that is in its 24th year.

People are asked to place their donation in or around their mailbox Saturday.

Can goods, tuna, peanut butter, rice, pasta, macaroni and cheese, soup, cookies, cake mixes, canned fruits and vegetables are all examples of items that will be accepted by letter carriers.

Items not accepted in the food drive include expired food, glass products, frozen foods, produce, perishables, chips, candy, home canned goods, dented, dirty or rusty cans.

The food will be distributed among six local agencies: The Salvation Army, the Store House Food Pantry, Haven House, River City Rescue Mission, We Care Community Services and the Women’s Restoration Shelter.

Local schools and churches have gotten in on the food drive, and Melton has been picking up donations around the county this week that will be delivered to the post office Saturday.

Rep. Oscar Denton will be on hand at the post office Saturday afternoon to help unload the food from the mail trucks, package the food in boxes for the agencies to easily pick up and reload the food on their trucks.

“It’s just a way of giving back to the community,” Denton said. “This will be my third year doing it, and I enjoy doing it.”

The National Association of Letter Carriers has been collecting food donations on the second Saturday in May since 1993. Last year, 71 million pounds of food was collected nationwide bringing the 23-year total to 1.4 billion pounds.

Locally, food drive coordinator Tommy Atlas said carriers typically gather between 8,000 and 13,000 pounds a year.

“It fluctuates in between so we’re hoping to maybe get 12,000. That’ll be considered a good day,” Atlas said.

Food will also be accepted at the Pemberton Post Office lobby or again from mailboxes Monday.

“If they can’t give that Saturday then we also pick it up Monday, too. If they’re out of town or just forget, then you still can put it out Monday and we’ll still pick it up,” Atlas said.