Larry Adam has not lived in Catonsville for many years.
But the retired broker, who can recall walking to St. Agnes School as a youngster, no doubt still takes some pride in the way his former home responds to the annual Harvest for the Hungry campaign that he founded in 1987.
Adam had the idea for Harvest for the Hungry after participating in a holiday food drive and realizing that food banks need large donations year round, not just during the holidays.
"The face of hunger has changed and there (are) so many people in need," he said.
This year's event began Saturday and runs through March 9. It partners the United States Postal Service with community members to create a unique food drive throughout Maryland.
Throughout the week-long program, community members can leave donations of canned goods and other non-perishables in or next to their mailbox and they will be picked up with the mail.
"If you want to go to your mailbox to get mail, it's easy to do it," Adam said.
"They make it very, very easy for people to participate," he said of the Postal Service.
Once collected at the local post offices, food is transported into Baltimore for processing before it finds its home at the Maryland Food Bank in Halethorpe.
"I've worked in Catonsville and done Harvest for the Hungry, (and) they really go above what they need to," said Robin Hixenbaugh, a letter carrier for the Catonsville Post Office.
Hixenbaugh has worked in the Postal Service for 13 years and said Catonsville residents often go beyond the expected amount of donations.
Sometimes, she said, she even has to make multiple trips because her delivery vehicle is so full of donations.
"From my route, in general, it's not uncommon for me to have to come back halfway through the day to get rid of food so I have room in the vehicle," Hixenbaugh said.
"There are some houses that you'll walk up (to) that leave two or three bags of food. You never get just two or three cans. It's usually a bag full, at least 10 to 15 pieces, of cans, crackers, soup mixes," she said.
She said Harvest for the Hungry offers a great unique take on food drives because it is convenient, but, thanks to the Postal Service's involvement, trustworthy.
"It's not a big deal to have a mail carrier come up to your door and walk away," Hixenbaugh said. "They know it's going to go where it's said to go.".
Shanika Folson, supervisor of customer service at the Catonsville carrier annex on Geipe Road, said there are so many donations in Catonsville that some carriers even compete, saying "Oh, I have more than you." "That's all you got?" to see who gets more on their daily route.
"They're excited about it, I guess because they're helping," Folson said.
According to Adam, Harvest for the Hungry has collected more than 32 million pounds of food since its first year and, now, thanks to partnerships with the Postal Service and Safeway, donating is easier than ever.
In addition to leaving donations by the mailbox, participants can also purchase pre-packed bags of food at any Safeway in Baltimore County for $10 to be donated to Harvest for the Hungry.
Donations can also be dropped off at the Catonsville Post Office on Frederick Road.
Hixenbaugh said she enjoys Harvest for the Hungry because it is a great way to help those in need while still carrying out her regular work duties.
"We like to help the community," Hixenbaugh said. "There's a lot of family out there that, you know, they're in need."
"And with us doing this food drive, customers are nice enough to put out large quantities of food. Catonsville is very, very good about donating," she said.
Adam said the whole point of the program was to raise awareness about hunger and that partnering with the Postal Service made participating a cinch.
"The idea here is to let the public know that there's a need," Adam said. "We need nutritious food."
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