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Letter carriers collect for pantries


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Letter carriers collect for pantries

Chris Jamrock, coordinator for the Postal Service's Elm wood Park branch site, said donations appear to be on par with last year.

Letter carriers picked up more than outgoing mail when going about their rounds Saturday.

They collected nonperishable food items for the National Association of Letter Carriers' annual Stamp Out Hunger drive.

Carriers dropped off plastic mail crates filled with cereal and salad dressing instead of the letters and magazines that they held earlier at the Postal Service's Elmwood Park branch near 51st and Center Streets. Five volunteers slowly filled a U-Haul truck with the donations.

Letter carrier Jim Graeve said the food drive added a little extra time to his route, but he didn't mind the extra work.

Graeve has been working the same route for the past 20 years.

"It ain't so bad," he said. "I've got a system," gesturing to donations that neatly filled brown paper sacks.

It was letter carrier Angie Bowlby's first year participating in the drive.

Bowlby said it seemed to be a success. She doubled back and collected more donations on her route. Did it slow her down?

"A little bit, but it's worth it," Bowlby said. "It helps a lot of people."

Last year, letter carriers in Omaha, Ashland and Platts-mouth collected over 74,000 pounds of food. The national campaign collected 74 million pounds of food in 2013.

The collections gathered in Omaha stay local, going to benefit St. Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army food pantries.

Totals won't be completed until Monday, but Elmwood branch site coordinator Chris Jamrock said donations appeared to be on par with last year.

Many volunteers said community coordination was a major part of the drive. The United Way of the Midlands participated, as did many local labor unions. At the Elmwood branch, apprentices Mike Lindhorst and Bryan Drexel represented the 464th Steamfitters Union.

Ed Vandenberg, a retired Postal Service worker, volunteered with his wife, Janice.

"We get a lot of support. It's not just us," he said. "It's people all through the city ... and you can see the results."

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