Mail carriers all over the United States, including Burke County, are coming together to help end hunger by using their mail routes and giving everyone a chance to participate.

This Thursday or Friday , those in Burke and around the country will receive a plastic bag in their mailbox that is sponsored by Food Lion that they can fill with nonperishable foods. This is the 27th year the United States Postal Service has organized the Letter Carriers’ Food Drive.

Those who want to participate are asked to fill the plastic bag given to them by the mail carrier and place it beside the mail or directly underneath the mailbox.

“Most postal carriers would prefer them putting it right under the mailbox or right beside of it,” said David Burleson , executive director of Burke United Christian Ministries, said.

BUCM is one of the recipients of the food collected by the Stamp Out Hunger food drive.

In 2018, BUCM received 17,000 pounds of food from the drive.

“It is our largest food drive of the year … without that food drive , we would have to spend a whole lot of money on pantry foods, so this goes a long way to helping us sustain our pantry and provide the food for folks to come in and shop,” Burleson said. “It is a hug e asset to us.”

On Saturday, once all the food has been taken to the post office in Morganton, workers and volunteers will sort through and divide up the food between Burke United Christian Ministries, East Burke Christian Ministries and a few other food pantries.

“They are encouraging everyone to fill them up, and if they want to do more, just use any type of plastic bag they have got and tie it up,” he said. “Leave it at the mailbox and the postal carrier will pick it up and take it back to the post office.”

This drive also helps BUCM and other pantries by giving them the opportunity to prepare for the summer months.

“Our summer needs are always the highest because the kids are home from schools and more will be coming to the soup kitchen … many more families , especially grandparents , will be coming to shop for food because those young kids eat a lot,” he said.

Burleson says that canned meats and breakfast items are always in great need.

“That goes the quickest in our pantry, so canned meats and we always need peanut butter, jelly, macaroni and cheese, but really any nonperishable food can be used,” he said.

The food drive is also in need of volunteers from 1-6 p.m. on Saturday at the Morganton Post Office who can help in the following ways:

» Unloading mail carrier vehicles as they come in

» Assisting with weighing the food

» Sorting donated food items into barrels

» Loading full barrels onto truck

» Unloading full barrels at BUCM

» Meeting postal food carriers in other areas of Burke County to pick up food

“This is an entire community helping a network of postal carriers basically going by every home and it is a great way to do it,” Burleson said.

For those who are interested in volunteering, call Elizabeth Norris at 828-433-8075. Folks also can go to eww.bucm.net/stamp-out-hunger/ to get additional information and to sign-up.

Staff Writer Jonelle Bobak can be reached at jbobak@morganton.com or 828-432-8907.

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