Last weekend, employees of the Shawano Postal Service, along with other local volunteers once again teamed up to stamp out hunger in the community.
Every Saturday before Mother’s Day across the country, the United States Postal Service helps to collect and distribute non-perishable foods to local food banks and pantries and locally in Shawano it’s no different, as collections go to the Shawano Area Food Pantry.
“We’ve been involved with this for many years already, over 20,” said Shawano Postmaster Pam Donner. “A lot of family member, friends of family members and employees here, 14 routes, all collecting mail and a lot of employees that are off on Saturday also come in to donate their time to help the carriers that are on that day.”
Donner says it really takes a collaborative effort from her team on collection day. Not only are the workers busy collecting donated food, but they also have to make sure mail is delivered on that day too.
“Everybody is trying to help each other out,” said Donner of those collecting donations. “There are times we have our little white trucks that deliver mail, we can’t always fit all of that food in there as we have the mail in there too, so we have people that go around and empty out the trucks as they get too full and take it over to the food pantry. When you see at the end of the day the sheer volume of what you’ve collected and what it’s going to do to help the community and what the community has done to help with our food drive, it’s a great day for everyone.”
This year Donner says they collected about 8,000 pounds of food from donations, which is right on par as previous years. As a reminder to residents, the post office issues blue plastic bags about two days before they collect, but often times donations exceed what is able to fit in the bag. She added that they typically are able to bring in anywhere from 7,000 to 9,000 pounds in a good year.
“It’s amazing what some customers donate,” she said. “The bag itself that we pass out would do four or five cans of food. Not only do they fill that up, but there’s also sometimes grocery bags sitting out, or boxes full of canned foods out by the curb that customers have donated. It’s grown more and more every year. It’s amazing how much they’ve contributed and they remember it. Customers remember it because it’s always the Saturday before Mother’s Day.”
With all of the food coming into the pantry, it’s crucial to have someone that can organize the items for the pantry, like Flo Withers, who Donner says has been a staple at the pantry for many years.
“Flo Withers has helped us for years, a wonderful woman that’s helped us amazingly every year and she donates her time. She was there all day Saturday as we dropped off the food. They go through it and they take anything that’s outdated and put it on there and provide that to the people that go there for assistance for food.”
Donner also makes sure to give credit to the community of Shawano for allowing the post office provide the donations to the Shawano Area Food Pantry, as it shows just how giving this community can be.
“It is a great community, always trying to help out and always trying to help out with the food pantry,” Donner said. “Like I said, to give props to Flo Withers. She has been a remarkable help for us for many, many years.”
The food drive has been a part of the community for at least 25 years in the Shawano area, and while helping out a great cause, those involved thoroughly enjoy the annual day.
“They have fun,” said Donner about those who help collect. “It’s fun to go out and see what everybody has donated. It’s a fun day, everybody gets involved. You get out in the country, in the city of Shawano, and a lot of people are standing out by their mailboxes when they pick up the food, so you get a little visiting in, so they all try to help out.”
We congratulate another successful food drive and all of those that helped make the drive possible, as this week’s collaborative Community Helper.