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Post office to hold annual food drive

A walk to the mailbox with a handful of canned goods is all it takes to help feed the hungry.

Saturday, May 13 is designated as the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp out Hunger Food Drive, and postal workers from across the country will be collecting canned goods and nonperishable items that will go directly to food pantries.

“Last year, more than 80 million pounds of food was collected feeding an estimated 64 million people nationwide,” local food drive coordinator Tommy Atlas said.

The year will mark the 25th anniversary of the food drive and Vicksburg’s Local Branch 94 of the NALC has partnered with United Way of West Central Mississippi and Eddie and Amy Vaugh Melton to collect food items from Vicksburg and the surrounding Warren County areas.

“The letter carriers of Vicksburg will be doing the food drive in honor of Kimmy Melton, who is the daughter of Eddie and Amy Melton,” Atlas said.

Kimmy Melton, who was a student at Warren Central High School, had been passionate about helping others and had decided she wanted her friends to bring canned goods to her birthday parties in lieu of gifts.

After her death in 2012, Melton’s parents decided to honor her memory with a canned food drive and for the past five years the couple have partnered with local postal carriers.

“Last year we collected 12,586 pounds, locally,” Atlas said, with carriers hoping to exceed that poundage this year.

“The need for food donations is great. Currently, 49 million Americans — one in six— are unsure where their next meal is coming from,” Atlas said, and 13 million of those are children.

Also, of that number, more than 5 million are seniors over the age of 60, many of whom live on fixed incomes and are often too embarrassed to ask for help.

Because food banks and pantries often receive the majority of their donations during the holiday season, it is crucial to give during the other times of the year.

“Many pantries are depleted, entering the summer low on supplies at a time when many school breakfast and lunch program are not available to children in need,” Atlas said.

For those interested in leaving a donation, Atlas said just leave a non-perishable food donation by your mailbox and the carrier will do the rest.

Over the course of the 24-year history of the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp out Hunger Food Drive, 1.5 billion pounds of food has been collected and dispersed to those in need living in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Local agencies that will benefit from next Saturday’s food drive include the Food Pantry, River City Rescue Mission, the Women’s Restoration Shelter, We Care Community Services, Haven House Family Shelter and the Salvation Army.

To honor Vicksburg’s Local Branch 94 of the NALC, the Mississippi House of Representatives passed House Resolution 109, which commends the local group on their 25 years of service to the community.

Mississippi House of Representatives Oscar Dent presented the plaque to the carriers earlier this week.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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