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Neither snow, rain, heat, or gloom of night keeps these couriers from collecting food for pantries

By Esteban Fernandez, Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — The U.S. Postal Service continues a 30-year tradition this Saturday as letter carriers pick up food donations while they make their rounds delivering mail throughout the county.

“It’s an opportunity for us to be able to give back to the community,” Bob Brummage, branch president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said. “We are one of the most trusted federal agencies in the United States. Customers see us every day, six, seven days a week. So, it’s an opportunity for us to reach out with our local postal patrons and collect this nonperishable food and bring it back to the food pantries.”

The National Association of Letter Carriers teamed up with the AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers, United Ironworkers, National Association of Rural Carriers and the United States Postal Service to organize the food drive. Recipients of the drive here in Marion County include the Union Mission, Salvation Army, Soup Opera and others.

The drive used to collect an average of 20,000 pounds of food. The drive went on hiatus for two years during the COVID-19 pandemic and when it returned, it collected half the amount from before. Brummage hopes this year will be different, with numbers returning to their pre-pandemic state.

Brummage and his fellow letter carriers can often see the impact of hunger as they go about delivering mail. They see lines of people waiting to receive food at the Union Mission, people who are homeless looking for a place to go, families who have lost jobs or been laid off and the impact of high prices on residents. With the poverty level in Fairmont so high, Brummage said, there’s a definite need for this drive to help restock the shelves at food banks and pantries.

“Hopefully, it’ll uplift the community,” Brummage said. “It’ll take the burden off of somebody whose facilities are already stretched thin. These food pantries can’t survive without these types of drives, donations. Hopefully what we raise will lessen the burden on them throughout the summer and fall.”

According to the NALC’s website, letter carriers have always had a proud history of community service, whether it was collecting funds for charity, watching over the elderly or providing assistance during a disaster. The NALC food drive builds on top of this tradition.

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