East Portland neighbors generously support Letter Carrier Food Drive

Discover the ‘dichotomy of generosity’ in this annual food drive – it seems that outer East Portlanders again outshone their wealthier neighbors to the west …

As letter carriers return to Creston Station, volunteers help offload the yellow bags of food, destined for the Oregon Food Bank, from their vehicles.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The Oregon Food Bank got a boost on Saturday, May 12, thanks to the United States Post Office (USPS) National Association of Letter Carriers’  “Stamp Out Hunger’ Food Drive”.

Contributing couldn’t have been easier – neighborhood residents simply filled with nonperishable food the yellow plastic bags previously left by their postal carrier, and left it out that day to be picked up when their mail was delivered.

Letter Carrier John Larson, and Kevin Card – President of the Oregon State Association of Letter Carriers – agree that the event is fun, and beneficial to those in need.

Creston-Kenilworth neighbor Kevin Card, who’s also a Letter Carrier and President of the Oregon State Association of Letter Carriers, came by to help offload food at the Creston Post Office late that afternoon.

“I’m also the statewide food drive coordinator,” Card said. “Postal carriers touch the lives of every American, six days a week. We see the need out there, in every neighborhood.”

Oregon Food Bank volunteers Amanda Owren, Anna Makela, and Christopher Luchini, help load totes full of the donated food.

Since the first “trial run” of the food drive 21 years ago, Card said he’s been pleased to see the response grow larger every year. “Oregonians are very generous and giving people; which is why our drive – and the Oregon Food Bank – are so successful.”

Card helped 15-year Creston Station Letter Carrier John Larson unload his vehicle after he pulled in after his route. “I really like doing this; it’s fun. And, it reminds me that there are lots of really neat people here. It brings a lot of smiles to people’s faces, both during the food drive, and from those who need the food, later on.”

As letter carriers come in from their routes, all volunteers spring into action to unload their vehicles.

Then, turning to Jean Kempe-Ware, Public Relations Manager of the Oregon Food Bank, Card said, “We’re proud to be associated with the Food Bank. Our drive is a real ‘coming together’ of volunteers and letter carriers. But, most important are our customers – who put the food out on their porch.  They are tops; they make it happen.”

Kempe-Ware smiled, and acknowledged, “This food drive is huge for us. It’s critical, because the demand for food continues to go up. And, the need will increase when students get out of school and begin eating at home.”

In addition to thanking the letter carriers, Kempe-Ware added, “I also thank the thousands of volunteers who help us – including the trucking companies who help transport the food we’ve gathered.”

Volunteers press into service any container that rolls, to help letter carriers efficiently unload the yellow plastic bags of donated food from their vehicles.

“There’s an interesting ‘dichotomy of generosity’ – it seems that many of the poorest neighborhoods contribute the most food,” Card pointed out.

After the preliminary data was tallied, Kempe-Ware informed us that the Lents Station letter carriers gathered 29,558 pounds of food, and the Parkrose Station collected 24,520 pounds. The Creston station took in 13,376 lbs. and Sellwood-Westmoreland residents put out 14,639 lbs of food for the drive.

“We thank all those who have been so generous, and helped feed the hungry,” Kempe-Ware said, who later added that this year’s food drive gathered the largest amount of food ever.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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