Photo Gallery | North Adams Friendship Center Food Pantry
PITTSFIELD -- Letter carriers across the county are hoping to make a difference this weekend -- one bag of food at a time.
The Berkshire County Letter Carriers' Branch No. 286 will be collecting donations Saturday for local food pantries. It's part of the National Letter Carrier's "Stamp Out Hunger" event, now in its 22nd year.
Mike Callahan, letter carrier and food drive coordinator overseeing the Pittsfield post office, said donations will be distributed to 19 different food pantries and roughly 25 around the county.
On Saturday, any resident in Berkshire County can leave a sturdy bag of goods next to their door, mailbox or business before their regular mail delivery.
Residents are urged to only donate nonperishables as beans, cereal, peanut butter, pasta products and canned goods such as fruit, vegetables, spaghetti sauce and soup. Paper and personal hygiene products are also accepted. Products in glass containers will not be taken.
Callahan said letter carriers and their families will pick up donations this Saturday, with sorting to be done with volunteers and organizations such as Berkshire United Way.
"One of the main goals is to keep the food within the city or town it's collected in," Callahan said.
In North Adams, donations will support the Berkshire Food Project at the First Congregational Church, the Salvation Army, and the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative's Friendship Center food pantry.
Mark Rondeau of NBIA said the drive helps the center immensely, and he pointed to a growing need in the community. The pantry saw 815 household visits this April, the most since it was founded more than three years ago, he said.
Countywide, more than 70,000 pounds of food was collected during last year's drive, Callahan said -- 14,000 pounds more than the previous year.
Fifty-thousand bags and reminder postcards, sponsored by Price Chopper, Campbell Soups and other organizations were mailed to households this week, he said.
"Letter carriers in every neighborhood around the county see the struggle way too many people are enduring every day," said Gary Ghidotti, president of Branch 286.
The drive comes when food pantries' reserves are depleted, he said, and with schools close to summer vacation, children who receive free or reduced lunch in schools won't have that daily meal.
It is the nation's largest single-day food drive, according to the National Association of Letter Carriers.
To reach Edward Damon:
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