ARLINGTON — The annual Letter Carriers Food Drive on Saturday, May 11, couldn’t have come too soon for the Arlington Community Food Bank.
While this year’s take was still being totted up as of press time, last year’s Letter Carriers Food Drive generated an estimated $15,000 worth of food for the Arlington Community Food Bank, according to Jerrie Inman, a member of the Arlington Community Food Bank Board of Directors.
“That adds up to more than 10,000 pounds of food that we took in last year during this one-day drive alone,” Inman said on May 11. “I’m pretty sure this is a biggie for all the community food banks, but I know it is for us. We started this morning with some fairly bare cupboards, and a lot of what we did have left had been given to us by the Volunteers of America.”
Inman noted that items such as flour, sugar, rice, oatmeal and peanut butter tend not to be donated as much, which is why the Arlington Community Food Bank spends as much as $3,000 a month on them.
“The food we receive during the holiday season just barely gets us to this food drive,” Inman said. “The food we receive in this food drive will hopefully get us through to the holidays.”
Inman praised the volunteers, both from the Arlington Community Food Bank and from the Arlington and Smokey Point post offices, who make the food drive such a well-organized affair in her estimation.
“The folks at the Post Office already have such a hard job as it is, without adding to the challenge of their routes with the difficulty of lugging thin plastic bags filled with heavy food,” agreed fellow Arlington Community Food Bank volunteer Kelly Marlo. “There’s a lot of working parts to this food drive, and everyone has their own job to do. It’s hard not to get overwhelmed, especially when you’re giving up a sunny weekend, but it’s great to see the community come together for those who are less fortunate.”
Although the day of the food drive itself was so hectic that volunteers had to sort donations in stages, just to get each wave out of the way in time to receive the next one, Inman pointed out that this time of year overall tends to be slow going for both cash and food donations. Nonetheless, the Arlington Community Food Bank was recently able to generate 243.5 pounds of food and $400 in cash for “Meals ‘til Monday,” which helps families within the Arlington School District who are part of the free and reduced-price lunch program.
“Most of our food still comes in at Christmastime, though,” said Carol Stamey, another Arlington Community Food Bank volunteer. “The organization that’s required for this food drive is huge, but there’s never been anything I do that feels better, which is why I do it. It’s kind of selfish, actually.”
Stamey’s granddaughter Madison has volunteered at the Arlington Community Food Bank, and Stamey herself wishes that more kids could see what a tangible difference they can make by donating their time and efforts.
“Once you get them hooked on volunteering, there’s no going back,” Stamey said.