Postal workers will be making special deliveries through Saturday in a second annual food drive that makes donating as easy as leaving a letter in your mail box.
The 10,000 U.S. Postal Service employees in the Baltimore District are pitching in for the statewide Harvest for the Hungry food drive. The Baltimore District includes Carroll County and all but the southern portion of the state.
While they're on their regular mail routes this week, postal carriers will take any nonperishable food, such as canned goods, that their 1.5 million customers leave next to their mailboxes.
The food collected will go to the nearest food bank. In Carroll, all the food will go to Carroll County Food Sunday, a volunteer organization that runs food banks in Westminster, Taneytown and Sykesville.
"We're glad to get it," said Paul G. Martin, executive officer of Food Sunday. "The more food that's donated, the less we have to buy."
Postal workers have had an internal food drive for four years. Last year they decided to include customers after hearing of a similar program in Arizona, said Patricia Liberto. She is a member of the Harvest for the Hungry Committee and an equal employment opportunity investigator for the Baltimore District.
"We deliver a lot more than the mail," Ms. Liberto said.
She said postal workers chose January through March for their drive because food banks sometimes run low on donations during those cold, post-holiday months.
Last year, Food Sunday received 8,000 pounds of food from the postal workers' drive, Mr. Martin said. He estimated that those cans and packages were the equivalent of 300 emergency baskets -- a package of basic items such as meat, soup, cereal, pasta and other foods to get a family through three or four days.
"This food is not going to leave the county," said Westminster Postmaster Richard Jozwiak.
He said most families leave two or three cans of food. But customers who want to leave more shouldn't worry about their carriers' backs -- clerks can go out in cars to pick up heavier loads, said Sykesville Postmaster Rob Pollard.
Customers also may drop off food at any post office in the area.