The fight against hunger in Southwest Florida took a giant step forward Saturday, as the community came together to donate a preliminary 190,571 pounds of food to the 25th annual National Letter Carriers Food Drive.
The amount was tallied at the Harry Chapin Food Bank’s Fort Myers warehouse Saturday night. The number is preliminary because more food will still come in from other post offices in Lee County.
The nation’s largest single-day food drive, called “Stamp Out Hunger,” is the one day when letter carriers collect non-perishable food that has been left by residents at their mailboxes.
The drive is held by the National Association of Letter Carriers. Locally, the Harry Chapin Food Bank and the United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee Counties partner with the letter carriers to make the food drive happen. Hundreds of volunteers assisted the letter carriers with picking up the food, and also unloaded and sorted the food at various postal drop-off sites.
“Once again, we have been overwhelmed by the support from our community,” said Richard LeBer, president and CEO of the Harry Chapin Food Bank. “Donors from across the region gave generously, letter carriers put in extra time and effort to gather up thousands of pounds of food, and the food bank staff and hundreds of volunteers spent several hours of their Saturday sorting food. We are so proud of our partnership with the Letter Carriers and the United Way. Hungry people in our community will be benefiting from this all summer.”
Letter Carrier George Sciascia of the U.S. Postal Service coordinates the food drive locally for the letter carriers. “Although the final tally is not in yet, it appears that this year’s “Stamp Out Hunger” Food Drive was a big success,” he said. “Preliminary reports from some of the various post offices indicate an increase of at least 10 to 20 percent of last year’s results. That means we collected about a third of a million pounds or more in Lee County.
“We letter carriers want to thank the Harry Chapin Food bank and the United Way for their massive support as well as our sponsors O’Donnell Landscapes and Clinger, Sizemore and Associates. Most of all we want to thank the people of Lee County for their continued generosity in this, our 25th annual food drive.”
All food collected in Lee County will be distributed by the Harry Chapin Food Bank and several other agencies. The food stays in our community.
“We are so impressed with the tremendous effort of the letter carriers, the volunteers, and the residents who put food by their mailboxes,” said Cliff Smith, president of United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee Counties. “Thank you to all of you! We also want to thank the Harry Chapin Food Bank who will distribute the food to our partners. All of you have made such a positive impact on our community.”
The Letter Carriers’ Food Drive helps food banks and the agencies they serve stay supplied with food during the summer months, when school is out and the need is great. Harry Chapin Food Bank serves 28,000 people per week through more than 150 partner agencies in Charlotte, Collier, Lee, Glades and Hendry counties.
© 2017 Naples Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Submitted by Harry Chapin Food Bank of SWFL.