Special delivery: 60 tons of sustaining generosity

Food left at mailboxes replenishes shelves for county food bank

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

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photoBrandon Hanson, 13, left, and his father, Kyle, move a large box filled with canned goods at the Caples Road post office. The Hansons live in Gresham, but the older Hanson works for Wells Fargo in Vancouver.

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photoVolunteers help unload a mail truck filled with canned goods during the annual letter carriers’ food drive.

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Local postal employees and community volunteers collected about 60 tons of food Saturday during the letter carriers’ annual food drive.

James Fitzgerald, operations manager for the Clark County Food Bank, said they had hoped to beat last year’s total, 137,000 pounds.

“But still,” he said, 120,000 pounds “is a lot of food.”

And it comes when the food bank’s shelves have been depleted.

The food collected during the December Walk & Knock drive “probably was gone by March,” he said. “So we don’t have much from mid-March through April. This was a really nice boost for us.”

About 150 volunteers helped with Saturday’s drive. That doesn’t include the letter carriers, who picked up the donations as they went from mailbox to mailbox on their routes.

People who didn’t get their donation out to the mailbox in time Saturday still can contribute, Fitzgerald said.

“Letter carriers will keep picking them up for a while, or people can drop them off at any post office. A fair amount trickles in,” Fitzgerald said.

People also can drop off donations at the food bank’s new warehouse, 6502 N.E. 47th Ave.

The bigger facility has made it much easier to process large-scale food reinforcements, Fitzgerald added. In the old warehouse, “We would receive the food and we would shut down for a while, until we got some of it out the door,” he said.

Now, “We are able to receive it and handle it in more reasonable time.”