Area postal workers help Stamp Out Hunger - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Area postal workers help Stamp Out Hunger

By Heather Sawaski

WAUSAU (WAOW) -- More than 49 million Americans are at risk of hunger, and area postal workers are giving you the opportunity to help, without even leaving your home.

Wausau letter carrier Paula Van Ooyen is picking up more than just outgoing mail.

"We deliver the mail as usual," she explained. "And any food that's left out at the mailbox, we fit in our satchel. What we can't fit in the satchel, we put out by the curb and we drive back for it after we're done with our walk."

The second Saturday in May for postal workers across the country, means it's time to Stamp Out Hunger. Since 1993, the first-class food drive has packaged more than 73,000 pounds of non-perishable food nationally. Last year, more than 25,000 pounds came from the Wausau area alone.

"We like to describe this as neighbors helping neighbors because that's exactly what you're doing," Van Ooyen said. "Every can, bag, or box of food that you put out by your mailbox is taken to your local food pantry."

Food pantries like the Neighbors' Place. After the parcels are dropped off by the postal workers, dozens of volunteers took to the task or sorting, and weighing every box and can.

It's no coincidence the food drive always takes place in the Spring.

"It's very important that we get a lot of food at this time because children are getting ready to get out of school," said Neighbors' Place coordinator Naomi Peters. "Whereas they could get the free and reduced lunch program at school where they get feed breakfast and lunch, they will no longer have that opportunity. So families are now going to have to come up with more food to feed the kids that are now at home during the Summer."

It's reasons like that Paula Van Ooyen looks forward to picking up these special deliveries each year.

Food collected in the Wausau area will go to both the Neighbors' Place and the Salvation Army. It does take some time to get sorted and weighed for the national records. but it should be out on the shelves and ready for those who need it by next week.

Online Reporter: Heather Sawaski

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