May 08, 2013 - By Meg Peters
Review Staff Writer
Letter Carrier Pam Wilson often sees hunger on her early morning route.
"It's hard to see a person who's never asked for help not know what to do," she said.
With the difficult economy, Wilson said people who have never gone hungry before are asking her for her advice while at the mailbox. She directs them to the Oxford/Orion FISH, where she will soon be delivering her own postal trucks bounty of donated goods.
The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, a national food drive organized by the National Association of Letter Carriers, is May 11, and an opportunity for Lake Orion residents to donate non-perishable food for a worthy cause.
All food will be donated to FISH, an organization which provides groceries to people in need in Lake Orion, Oxford, Addison and Oakland Township.
Wilson is the food drive coordinator for the Lake Orion Post Office branch of Stamp out Hunger, and hoping to top last years 10,000 pounds of donated food with 14,000 pounds this year, although she'd be happy with 12,000 pounds.
Saturday May 11 homeowners can leave the non-perishable food items in their mailboxes, in sturdy bags beside mailboxes, or on the doorsteps of their front doors. Participants should leave a note at the mailbox saying they have food at their front doors, and the letter carrier will retrieve it.
For 21 years the NACL has conducted the food drive strategically on Mother's Day weekend.
"This is huge for us because everyone thinks about us at the end of the year, but by January and February, the donating and giving is gone, it slows, and this really restocks the pantry that is almost empty by now," said Sandy Klersy, the FISH pantry coordinator.
Klersy said FISH must purchase a lot of their goods right now just to keep them going.
"People eat all year, not just over the holiday season," she said
Canned vegetables, fruits, soups, and canned fish and meat are encouraged, as well as boxed cereals, pasta and rice. Wilson said she knew of one senior who barely makes ends meet, but still leaves a can of food in her mailbox every year.
"Even if its just one can or one box of dried goods, you don't think about how many residents there are, if we can do that, we should be able to stamp out hunger," said Tanya Mattison, the postmaster in charge at the Lake Orion Post Office.
Summer time is also difficult for many families, single parents, and especially children, Wilson said. Many children qualify for the free and assisted meal programs at school, and come summer, those meals stop.
"That puts an extra burden on that single mom that's working two minimum waged jobs. Sometimes people think that the poor are people that don't wanna work," Wilson said.
Volunteers are working for both the post office and for FISH, including retired letter carriers, Boy Scout troops, and community members. Postal trucks will drop off food items throughout the day at FISH and volunteers will sort through the food. .
Volunteers can help at FISH on Saturday, May 11 from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., and on Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Donations can be made to FISH at their website http://www.oxfordorionfish.org.
Wilson's carrier loaded up quickly last year, as did many of her letter carriers. That's where the extra volunteers come in handy.
"Our carriers will call them and say that my truck is full, and they will run out and get it in their own personal vehicle and bring it back," Wilson said, encouraging anyone and everyone to help out FISH on May 11, and to donate to the cause.