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Postal drive helps stamp out hunger

Postal workers will be on their annual mission of collecting food donations for the local food pantries Saturday, May 12, when local residents place their non-perishable contributions by their mailboxes and in post offices. "Stamp out Hunger" is the theme for this 15th annual National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive and organizers hope to help accomplish just that by surpassing last year's donations.

Jeff Borgrud, local project chairperson since 2001 and a letter carrier out of the North Fargo Trollwood station, said the event has grown to be the largest one-day food drive in the nation, with the food collections donated to community food banks, pantries and shelters for distribution to needy families. Other letter carriers also assisting locally include Emily Roers, West Fargo; Matt Cogdill, Prairiewood; and Mark Flaa, Moorhead. Their postal stations are among the 1,300 NALC branches nationwide involved in the drive, joined in many locations by the National Rural Letter Carriers Association, along with other postal employees, family members, and other volunteers.

Residents should be looking for the special donation bags that will be placed in their mail this week, starting today (Wednesday, May 9). Box holders and homes on rural routes will receive a food drive postcard in the mail announcing the drive. Participants are asked to place their bag filled with the food items next to their mailbox before their mail delivery arrives on Saturday; being sure not to include any glass items.

Postal personnel will pick up the bags while delivering their normal routes and they will be taken back to the respective postal stations, sorted and then delivered to the food bank outlets. Moorhead's collections will go to the Dorothy Day House; those from North Fargo and West Fargo will be taken to the Emergency Food Pantry; while South Fargo donations will go to the Great Plains Food Bank.

An estimated 30 million people go hungry every day in America, including more than 12 million children. Borgrud said this drive is one way to help those less fortunate who live right here in the community.

Borgrud likes being involved with the annual event and intends to keep on doing it for as long as he is able. "It's just a personal challenge to get out there and raise awareness and try to increase the donations. The drive has become something that I look forward to each year. I have nine more years until retirement, so I plan on doing it until then."

Last year, 58,720 pounds of food was collected locally and Borgrud wants to topple that mark. "We would like to collect about 35 tons. That would be a record year of 70,000 pounds and we haven't hit that yet. The amount we collect is so important, because this drive makes the summer for the Emergency Food Pantry. School lets out and a lot of families rely on this for their meals."

Borgrud said a letter of thanks received from Great Plains Food Bank summed up the reality of everyone's efforts, saying the food that was given to their organization was enough to feed over 50,000 people. "It's a good feeling knowing we have played a part in that."

Borgrud is quick to commend the huge resource network of people involved with the yearly effort. "The rural carriers are very important to us. At least half of the food comes in from that source, and for that we are very thankful."

Hornbacher's and Saturn of Fargo have also been constant sponsors and supporters, dating back to the food drive's beginning. "I don't know how we would do it without them, Borgrud said. Hornbacher's prints the bags for the food drive and Saturn provides cars for a radio remote that will take place today (May 9) at the Osgood Hornbacher's store. "Their help has been key to our success. Without their assistance, a lot fewer people would know about us," Borgrud added.

And this year, a new business has come on board, Prairie Scales System, who has generously donated a pallet scale to the Emergency Food Pantry to help with this food drive and any others that will occur.

Campbell Soup Company and the U.S. Postal Service are major ongoing supporters, cosponsoring the printing of millions of postcards for delivery by letter carriers to encourage the general public to participate in the drive; as is Valpak Direct Marketing Systems, the nationwide direct mail marketing firm, which since 2004 has included promotions for the drive on the packets delivered to postal customers; America's Second Harvest, the nation's food bank network; the United Way of America and its local United Ways, and the AFL-CIO Community Services network.

Local promotion by the tri-city mayors is another plus in creating awareness, with West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern, Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker and Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland, signing Stamp Out Hunger Certificates in advance in support of the cause.