EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

May 9, 2014

Letter carriers collect food at the mailbox tomorrow

Mail carriers hope to Stamp Out Hunger

Food pantries all over the area are hoping for a big response to a donation drive tomorrow as they head into a tough summer.

The National Association of Letter Carriers, a mail carriers union, is running its annual Stamp Out Hunger campaign tomorrow.

Carriers in participating towns in Massachusetts and New Hampshire will collect nonperishable items left for them on or near mailboxes.

Donated items are then dropped off at any number of area food banks and pantries at the end of the route.

It’s a drive that requires the least amount of effort for those donating, said Terry Gesel, a Derry letter carrier.

“It’s probably one of the easiest food drives you can do because we go door to door, box to box, every day,” Gesel said.

For some pantries, the drive couldn’t come at a better time.

“We really count on this,” said Phylis Marchulaitis, volunteer coordinator for Food for the Hungry at United Methodist Church in Salem, N.H.

Though the drive is now 21 years old, recent years have seen lackluster participation.

“Response the last year or two has been a little lighter than years ago because of the economy,” Gesel said. “The need is very great.”

The weather can play a role, too.

“That’s a big thing,” Jurentkuff said. “Every time there’s a postal drive and it rains, that cuts everything down. Hopefully, it doesn’t rain.”

The before-and-after comparison paints a grim picture that has some pantry workers worried about what they’ll get tomorrow.

“In years past, we got 4,000 pounds of food,” Marchulaitis said. “Last year, we got 1,200 pounds.”

That isn’t to say the food wasn’t appreciated. With about 60 families coming into the Salem pantry weekly, any donation helps them accomplish their goals, Machulaitis said.

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