“Our shelves were practically empty before this food drive,” said Kay House, director of North Bartow Community Services. “... I was very surprised [by the number of donations].
“... [We were low on supplies, because] the need for our food pantry has increased. A lot more families are coming for the service. A lot of the families are needing it just to get through. We had some today that said, ‘I just need it for one night, so that I can get through, then tomorrow I get paid.’ Sometimes they’re in conditions like that — ‘I just need it for a few days and then I’m going to be OK.’ So to be able to give those families good food, it makes you feel better. We are serving more families in the last two years than we’ve [assisted in the past].”
Located at 2397 Hall Station Road in Adairsville, North Bartow Community Services provided an estimated 9,400 pounds of food last month to qualified individuals. Along with presenting proof of income, the recipients must be a Bartow County resident, living in the nonprofit’s service area of Adairsville, Kingston, Pine Log, Rydal and White.
Conducted on May 10, Adairsville post office’s carriers retrieved 10 80-pound hampers worth of food from their customers. After being informed of the drive, residents placed nonperishable food in bags inside or around their mailbox. Due to the rainy weather, many of the donations continued to trickle in last week, with customers bringing food to the post office.
“[The NALC food drive] is a nationwide project,” Adairsville Postmaster Stacy Bryan said. “It goes to local food pantries and if there’s nothing local then they will dispatch the food to an area like Atlanta. ... We’ve actually got a food pantry here in Adairsville. The people that took the food over there that work here for me said that when they took that food over there that most of the shelves were kind of bare. And they were almost fully stocked after they got all that food.
“... I’ve been here for two years [at the Adairsville post office] and they’ve told me that in prior years as well the customers here really, really participated in that. So it really is a shout out to the customers of Adairsville along with the carriers for picking [up the food]. But the people around here are just so generous. ... We’ve only got nine routes here, [so ] to get that much food, it says volumes about the community.”
With the 22nd annual NALC drive being conducted nationwide, Bryan said U.S. Postal Service carriers in other cities in Bartow collected food as well on May 10, distributing items to designated pantries across the county.
According to www.nalc.org, “The NALC National Food Drive is the outgrowth of a tradition of community service exhibited repeatedly by members of the letter carriers union over the years. These carriers, who go into neighborhoods in every town six days a week, have always been involved when something needed to be done, whether it be collecting funds for a charity like the Muscular Dystrophy Association, watching over the elderly through the Carrier Alert program, assisting the American Red Cross during time of disaster, or rescuing victims of fires, crime, and other mishaps.
“For many years, a number of branches had collected food for the needy as part of their community service effort. Discussions were held by the NALC, U.S. Postal Service and AFL-CIO Community Services Department to explore a coordinated effort. A pilot drive was held in 10 cities in October, 1991, and it proved so successful that work began immediately on making it a nationwide effort. Input from food banks and pantries suggested that late spring would be the best time since by then most food banks in the country start running out of donations received during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday periods.”
The website continued, “A revamped drive was organized for May 15, 1993 — the second Saturday in May — with a goal of having at least one NALC branch in each of the 50 states participating. The result was astounding. More than 11 million pounds of food was collected — a one-day record in the United States—involving more than 220 union branches. From Alaska to Florida and Maine to Hawaii, letter carriers did double duty — delivering mail and picking up donations. It just grew and grew from that point. In 2010, the food drive surpassed the 1 billion pound [mark] in total food collected over its history.”
In this year’s drive, the Cartersville post office’s carriers collected more than 10,000 pounds of nonperishable food.
“It was a good response,” Cartersville Postmaster Greg Blake said. “... We distributed it amongst the food banks locally. All the food stayed in the local, Bartow County area.
“The community did an overwhelming, great job on supporting it. It’s a national program that they do every year. I can’t speak to what the other cities did, but Bartow County’s always been very good in helping others.”
Along with The Salvation Army and Bartow County Community Resources Office, Cartersville’s drive also distributed items to numerous churches’ food pantries, some of which included Community Christian Church, Pine Grove Baptist, NorthPointe Church, Higher Wisdom Ministry, Grace Baptist, Bread of Life and Cassville Baptist.
“The carriers that [participate], they don’t get compensated anything special for it,” Blake said. “They do it because it’s a volunteer [effort]. It adds to their workload and they go over and above to try to help the local community.”