Volunteers team with USPS to help stamp out hunger

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Donald Noll and David Evans don’t work for the United States Postal Service, but next week they will be assisting with important deliveries. Saturday, May 9, is the 23rd annual Letter Carriers’ Food Drive, sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Local letter carriers plan to pick up food items from customers’ homes as they drop off their mail. It is the largest one-day food collection in the United States, and Noll and Evans are the coordinators of organizing the food and stocking it at the Canton Food Pantry.

The two friends have been volunteering at the food pantry for nearly three years. Evans loads shelves on Monday mornings between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. before the pantry opens. Noll checks weekly flyers and looks for good deals on food, then heads to the supermarket at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning. He also drives to the Greater Boston Food Bank every other week to pick up food.

At the Canton Food Pantry, located in the rear of the Rodman building at 960R Washington Street, more than 20 people team up each week to feed families, senior citizens, and others in need.

“It’s a completely volunteer-run organization,” Evans said. “No one gets any compensation.”

They fill shelves with donations left at Pratt Realtors, the Bank of Canton branches, Canton Co-operative Bank, the Canton Public Library, Walgreens and Shaw’s. Local businesses also help out: Crescent Ridge Dairy contributes orange juice, cottage cheese, and sour cream.

The food pantry is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:15 to 11:15 a.m. and on the first Saturday of each month from 10 to 10:30 a.m. They emphasized that the shelves are usually depleted by the end of each week.

Noll and Evans, along with other volunteers, will be at a table at the Rodman building where the letter carriers will unload the food. They will check for expiration dates and then stock the shelves. The last time they helped with the food drive, they had to dispose of about a fourth of the donated food because it was no longer fresh — something they are hoping to avoid this time.

“If you don’t want to eat it, then people don’t want to eat it,” Noll said.

He added that residents should bag their donations and leave them at their mailbox for the letter carrier. The pantry needs canned vegetables, canned tuna fish, peanut butter, jelly, pasta and sauce, canned fruit, cereals, soups, and any tomato products. “We try to pick up fresh vegetables,” Noll said.

Shaw’s donates 80 pounds of bananas at the beginning of each month, and the Big Y in Walpole and Panera at University Station donate food, too.

Volunteering at the food pantry and helping letter carriers to stamp out hunger is important to Evans and Noll.

“I think it’s a way to pay back the community and help people who really need the help, the elderly and the poor,” Evans said.

“You’re helping a lot more people,” Noll said. “Hunger crosses all boundaries. This will help us through the summer.”

Residents may also choose to make a tax-deductible monetary donation. Checks may be sent to the Canton Area Helpline, P.O. Box 202, Canton, MA 02021. Write FOOD on the memo line. Volunteers will be at the Rodman building on May 9 between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. accepting donations.

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