Drive comes at key time

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Donations left at mailboxes will help boost food pantries

Postal workers will be collecting food donations on their regular routes Saturday in Denton County, and the United Way is in need of volunteers to help with the donations in the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.

Saturday marks the 22nd year for the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, which is carried out with the U.S. Postal Service, Campbell Soup, Feeding America and other partners. During their regular routes Saturday, mail carriers will collect nonperishable food donations that residents may leave in bags by their mailboxes.

Local donations will be transported to the Denton Community Food Center, where the food will be unloaded from the postal vehicles by United Way of Denton County volunteers. According to a U.S. Postal Service news release, the annual drive is “America’s largest single day of giving.”

Forty to 50 people are needed to help with unloading the donated bags of food and weighing and sorting contributions, according to Gary Henderson, president and CEO of the United Way of Denton.

Volunteers are needed for two shifts beginning at 2 p.m., he said, but the greatest need will be between 4 and 7 p.m. Saturday at the Denton Community Food Center, 109 W. Sycamore St.

“We’re about two-thirds of the way there, so we could use more help,” Henderson said of volunteers signing up. “It’s really family-friendly. I think it’s a great opportunity to come out with kids and volunteer as a family.”

Timing for the drive is critical, according to the news release, because the majority of donations made to food banks and pantries are during the holidays. By spring, resources are depleted and the facilities enter summer with a shortage at a time when children don’t have access to school breakfast and lunch programs.

More than 38,000 pounds of food was collected during last year’s drive in Denton, and Henderson said this year’s goal is to collect 40,000 pounds. More than 100,000 Denton County residents are considered “food insecure” and of those, about 30,000 are schoolchildren, he said.

“Thank you to those who take a moment to take something from their pantry and help those in need,” he said.

Tom Newell, who serves as chairman of the Denton Community Food Center’s board of directors, said the food drive is its largest annual community food drive. The amount collected in last year’s drive was able to feed people assisted by the center for a month, he said.

Each year, the food center assists 8,000 adults and 4,000 children who live in 21 cities and towns north of Lewisville Lake, and last year it was able to provide 240 tons of food throughout the year, Newell said. The center receives no government funding and is a donation- and volunteer-based organization, he said.

“We are dependent on the community to support us,” Newell said. “We give to the community what we’re given to give. If the community doesn’t give, doesn’t donate, doesn’t provide, then we don’t have food to give to the community.

“We just appreciate the community support.”

For more information on how to volunteer for Saturday’s food drive, call United Way at 940-566-5851 or email teddy@unitedwaydenton.org.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.


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