This weekend, letter carriers will collect more than just outgoing mail.

On Saturday, carriers with the U.S. Postal Service in Greenwood will pick up bags full of non-perishable food for the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, organized by the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC).

Letter carriers have already started dropping off paper grocery bags at residences to be used to store food for Saturday. Food donations will benefit the Community Food Pantry.

“Our community is really generous and thoughtful to us,” said Tommy Ellett, the pantry’s executive director.

Though any canned or dry goods are appreciated, he said canned fruit, dry beans, peas and rice are particularly needed. Personal care items such as soap also are accepted.

Items that should not be donated include food in rusty or unlabeled cans or glass containers; perishable, homemade or expired items; alcoholic beverages or sodas, and opened items.

As a United Way agency, sponsored by the Greenwood-Leflore Ministerial Association, the Community Food Pantry is able to receive canned and boxed food throughout the year. Still, the annual food drive helps out tremendously, Ellett said. More than 12,000 canned goods were collected last year.

The pantry is open Tuesdays and Thursdays to provide food at 2509 Browning Road.

In March, the pantry gave food boxes to 826 people, many of them elderly. “I think a lot of the elderly people depend on us to supplement their food needs,” Ellett said.

He also expressed appreciation for the volunteers who help pack food to be donated at the center: “It’s amazing and wonderful that people are willing to work and give their time.”  

Greenwood’s post office is one of more than 50 in the state that will take part in the program.  Nationally, 10,000 communities  will participate this year.

Last year the program collected 71.6 million pounds of food from local communities in all states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the NALC.

Since its inception in 1993, the annual food drive has collected more than 1.6 billion pounds of food.

Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or gedic@gwcommonwealth.com.

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