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Food banks hope the donation is in the mail

Local postal carriers will be picking up more than just the mail Saturday as members of the National Association of Letter Carriers takes up their bags during the group’s 11th annual food drive May 10.

Postal customers are asked to leave their donations of non-perishable foods, hygiene items and cleaning supplies next to their mailboxes next Saturday morning. Letter carriers will pick up the contributions and distribute them to local food banks.

More than 137,000 pounds of food, hygiene items and cleaning supplies were donated to the drive in 2002.

Fishline Food Bank Executive Director Tricia Sullivan said the letter carrier drive is the biggest single event of the year for her organization.

“Fabulous,” Sullivan said of the 2002 drive. “Last year, people in the community gave 19,000 pounds of food for Fishline. We were so overwhelmed.”

With the shelves of the banks slowly emptying since Christmas, Sullivan and other food bank directors are grateful for this spring food drive.

“The end of the year donations are running out,” Sullivan said. “Right before summer, we need a big push to restock shelves.”

Francine Swift, coordinator of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe food bank, said the tribe received 9,000 pounds of food last year. Swift added that she hopes for bigger numbers this year.

Port Gamble S’Klallam has been struggling more than usual since Christmas because an abundance of red tides last fall created a hardship for commercial shellfish harvesters, she explained.

Last year, was the first year the S’Klallam Tribe participated and Swift said she was impressed by the response.

“I was just amazed that (the mail carriers were) so willing to help us,” Swift said. “Everyone seems really pleasant working with food banks.”

Kim Planck, director Sharenet in Kingston, said her bank received nearly 3,000 pounds of food last year.

With donations also lessening since Christmas, Planck said she believes the postal service held the drive to help local food banks get through the busy summer season.

“We’re getting geared up for the kids getting out of school,” Planck said, noting that when kids get out of school for the summer, they don’t get their usual free breakfast and lunch from the North Kitsap School District.

“You drive around, you see bags all over the place,” Planck said about the day of the drive. “It’s pretty neat.”

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