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Mail carriers food drive helps Manteca needy
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What do mail carriers and St. Vincent de Paul Society have in common?

They are both looking out for the needy in our community.

You, too, can help in their philanthropic efforts this Saturday when the National Association of Letter Carriers holds its 17th National Food Drive. And you don’t even have to hop in your car or lug a basket full of canned goods to the Society’s donation center at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Manteca. Simply have your donations ready by your mailbox for your letter carrier to pick up when they do their regular rounds on Saturday.

As in the last seven to eight years, all donated goods collected by the letter carriers will go to St. Vincent de Paul, an all-volunteer church-based organization which helps those who need a hand-up.

“It’s nationwide but everywhere they are collecting, the food stays local. Everything goes to the local community,” said Al DeGroot, the president of St. Vincent de Paul.

Ken Meadows, president of the Manteca union branch 4249, is asking everyone to participate and “donate something.”

With the economy still sagging, the need is even greater for families and individuals who are experiencing dire financial straits, he said.

“Whether it is the low-income families, the out-of-work, the disabled, the elderly or anyone that just may need a helping hand, the food will stay in our community. They may be your neighbors, your friends or even your relatives. With the price of gas and food soaring, every little bit helps,” Meadows said.

Just leave your donations “by your mail box; the carrier will pick it up without postage,” he added.

Or, he said, you can bring your donations to the post office. Also, businesses that may be closed on Saturday but want to participate can give their donations before that day.

“We are gladly accepting (donations) early if (they) wish to participate,” Meadows said.

He is asking for people to donate nonperishable food items.

DeGroot said St. Vincent de Paul volunteers will pick up the donated goods as they arrive at the post office on Saturday. That way, the letter carriers don’t have to worry about loading them up in trucks and delivering them to the society’s building for storage, he said.

Meadows said last year’s food drive collected approximately 12,000 pounds of food in the local area alone, and about 73.1 million pounds nationally which makes this effort “the nation’s single-day food drive.”

DeGroot said previous year’s similar efforts have brought in between 7,000 and 12,000 pounds of nonperishable goods for their organization. That amount of food will probably last them “about a month,” he said.

“Some items will last longer than that; in others you run shorter.  But it’s a good help,” DeGroot said of the replenishment coming from the letter carriers’ efforts.

For more information about the food drive, call Meadows at (209) 823-7671.