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Southeast letter carriers bag tons of food for the needy

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Returning from her postal route south of S.E. Powell Boulevard, USPS Letter Carrier Aimee Anderson hands off food she collected at the Sellwood Postal Station at S.E. Ochoco at 17th.Along almost any street in Inner Southeast Portland, on the morning of May 11, there were plastic bags stuffed full of food items, ready to be picked by U.S. Post Office letter carriers as their one-day “Stamp Out Hunger” drive got underway.

Greeting the carriers as they came in from their routes at the Sellwood Postal Station, on S.E. 17th at Ochoco Street, just north of the Clackamas County line, was Kevin Card, President of the Oregon State of Association of Letter Carriers.

“I’ve been the coordinator of our statewide food drive for years,” smiled Card, a resident of the Foster-Powell neighborhood.

“Our letter carriers have been doing this for twenty years,” Card said. “It’s become a huge event we hold annually with the help of – and as a benefit for – the Oregon Food Bank. In addition to letter carriers, hundreds of volunteers sign up well in advance to help unload the food at our post offices, and take it to the food bank.”

Concerning the donations he’s seen this year, Card observed, “I am very impressed at how generous our customers are. This year, the donation bags are a lot heavier. We are totally happy about that!”

Also at the station was Eastmoreland resident, and Oregon Food Bank Public Relations Manager, Jean Kempe-Ware, who watched the food donations come in.

“What is so heartwarming to me about this food drive – unlike any other – is how it brings everybody together,” Kempe-Ware told THE BEE. “Volunteers, businesses, trucking companies, unions – everyone is united in doing one single thing today: We are all focused on giving a little bit of food to those who need it.”

Even though the economy has improved, donations are still needed, Kempe-Ware added. “It will be years before people who have lost their jobs or homes can get back on their feet again. We have a lot of people who are suffering; in Oregon – 270,000 people every month are eating meals out of emergency field ration boxes.”

By the end of the day, 15,970 pounds of food – that’s nearly 8 tons; a 13 percent increase over the previous year – was collected at the Sellwood Postal Station alone.

But – anytime is a good time to donate to the Oregon Food Bank, Kempe-Ware reminded. Visit their website: www.oregonfoodbank.org/

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