ELKHART — In its 18th year of participating, the Elkhart postal service workers collected 93,755 pounds of food during the Stamp Out Hunger drive on Saturday. Numbers were down slightly from 2011, when they raised 100,209 pounds of food.
Every year people forget to set out food the day of the food drive. Darren Bickel, vice president of Community Impact for the United Way of Elkhart County, said that he expects 2,500 pounds of food will be delivered to the post office Monday through Wednesday.
More than 325 volunteers from Elkhart, Goshen, Middlebury and Bristol assisted the 150-plus letter carriers as they gathered nonperishable items such as canned vegetables, pasta, rice and boxed food such as cereal.
But Bickel said it’s more than just the numbers.
“Sometimes it’s easy when we’re doing a drive like this to get caught up in how many pounds it is. ... Everything we collect today will be used by a local family,” he said.
The event began 20 years ago by the National Association of Letter Carriers. Residents were asked to place donations by 8 a.m. Saturday morning so postal workers and volunteers could gather them. Sorting began at noon at the Main Street post office for the Elkhart donations. Half of the food collected in Goshen went to the Salvation Army of Goshen and half went to The Window.
Fifteen local agencies will benefit from the food gathered on Saturday. They include Faith Mission, Church Community Services and Council on Aging. United Way of Elkhart County has helped coordinate the event for five years.
Government employees from Elkhart, Goshen and Elkhart County competed to see who could donate the most for Stamp Out Hunger. They raised 9,403 pounds of food, which is an increase of 84 percent from last year’s total. Elkhart County won for most amount of food donated, Goshen won for both the largest amount of money contributed and the highest amount of donations per capita.
For more information on the event go to www.helpstampouthunger.com.