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Postal food drive planned May 12

May 01, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY

On May 12, after delivering mail by the ounce, letters carriers in Washington County will collect food by the pound.

That's when mail carriers will hold this year's food drive, a tradition in its 15th year.

In several parts of Washington County, including the City of Hagerstown, residents can leave bags of dry goods at their mailboxes. Mail carriers will collect the food, which will go to Food Resources, a county nonprofit collection and distribution agency.

Last year, Washington County mail carriers collected more than 10,000 pounds of food, said Ruth Anne Callaham, Food Resources' executive director. She called the annual postal food drive one of the most successful for her agency.

Residents also donated about $300 last year. Callaham said $1 buys about 10 pounds of food.

Julie Mitchell, the shop steward of the Hagerstown branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said she'd like to see 15,000 pounds collected this year. Regardless, she said, she's glad to help Food Resources, which needs it.

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On Tuesday, Food Resources had about 91,000 pounds of food in its warehouse, Callaham said.

"That's a little on the low side," she said. "We like to have 150,000."

Callaham said the collection is timed well because more food is needed when the school year ends.

Children who receive free or reduced-price meals in school - at least 35 percent of Washington County Public Schools students qualify - instead will rely on community organizations with summer programs, said Callaham, a member of the school board.

Boys & Girls Club of Washington County gives children snacks during its after-school programs, said Buck Browning, the club's director of development. During the summer, though, the club offers lunch, so it will need more from Food Resources, he said.

Members of both the letter carriers union in Hagerstown and the separate rural route carriers union will collect food, Mitchell said.

Some parts of the county, like Hancock and Fairplay, don't plan to take part, according to Mitchell and employees at those post offices.

Smithsburg letter carriers will collect food, Postmaster Barbara Thomas said, but the effort needn't be as large there because local churches and food banks already do a lot.

Mitchell said Food Lion supermarket branches on Wilson Boulevard and Virginia Avenue will accept food donations. She said Tuesday that she was trying to get Martin's supermarkets to participate, too.

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