Stamping out hunger is a goal near and dear to the National Association of Letter Carriers. Area postmasters are encouraging peninsula residents to join them in their annual food drive on Saturday.
For seven years Alaskans have participated by donating more than 300,000 pounds of non-perishable food. Last year's effort netted 66,000 pounds, part of the 58 millions pounds collected nationwide, according to the United States Postal Service.
Letter carriers association members at Soldotna, Kenai and Homer post offices will accept donations left along their routes and at the post office lobbies.
Food collected by Soldotna's four city carriers and three highway contract routes will be rounded up at the post office, before being turned over to the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank. Postmaster Phyllis Torwick said a basket would be available in the lobby prior to Saturday.
"We appreciate the help given in the past and hope (the community) will continue to do so," Torwick said. "Anyone that wants to donate, we'll be prepared."
Vicki Shillam, Kenai postmaster, said this is the fourth year the Kenai Post Office has participated.
"Carriers are more than happy to pick (donations) up if people want to leave items on top, underneath or around their mailboxes," said Shillam of Kenai's 21 postal employees. "We'll pick up any items you leave.
"We've had a real nice turnout from the community. I'd like to encourage people to please give. This is a worthwhile organization."
Sandy Hensler, director of the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank, said her organization welcomes any donations.
"We can just pretty much use anything that comes through the door," Hensler said. "And we do make use of everything. The way our system is set up to disperse food, we have recipients that'll take just about anything.
"I want to publicly thank the citizens of this community that have helped support and donate to the food bank," Hensler said. "It's something we're mindful of almost every day. We appreciate the support."
In a press release issued by the United States Postal Service on Wednesday, canned items such as meat, tuna, fruits, vegetables and soups, as well as dried milk and cereals were identified as most needed.
The USPS requested that customers not leave anything in glass or breakable containers or food that is perishable.
Other peninsula post offices are encouraging participation, al-though their employees are not members of the National Associ-ation of Letter Carriers.
Sterling Postmaster Donna West recommended any Sterling residents take donations directly to Soldotna.
David Speaks, postmaster at Clam Gulch, suggested people take donations either to Soldotna or directly to the food bank on Kalifornsky Beach Road.
"That's where I take (my donations)," Speaks said.
Lynda Kvasnikoff, Ninilchik's postmaster, was in the process of putting out a box to collect items Thursday afternoon.
"If people want to bring (donations) in here, we'll be glad to put (the food) in boxes and send it to Soldotna," said Kvasnikoff.
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