Annual food drive held Saturday in aid of Salvation Army Food Bank
SUMMERSIDE — Canada Post workers hit the streets of Summerside Saturday, not to deliver the mail but to pick up packages to help the Salvation Army Food Bank.
© Michael Nesbitt/Journal Pioneer
Families and friends joined Canada Post letter carriers in the annual drive for food bank donations. Regan Kenny’s children, Nina and Reese, were proud to help pick up from Leland MacKinnon and others along Dad’s route.
Canada Post letter carriers and rural post offices turned the tables on their jobs once again, supporting the food bank by collecting donated items from their customers and taking them back to a central sorting station at the St. Eleanors Community Centre.
There are 13 letter carrier routes in the city, with each carrier using their own resources to collect donations that are typically just left on the doorstep. Rural post offices collect the donations for transport to Summerside.
Scott Gaudet has organized the letter carriers for the past three years of the effort and looks more for acknowledgement than the volume of donations.
“(We are) hoping for a good sense that the community is understanding the need,” he expressed.
The Salvation Army’s Karen Mallett agreed that the need is sometimes misunderstood and discussed conditions few consider.
“Conditions change unexpectedly, and so does the need associated with those changes,” she explained, citing the seasonal economy or other unanticipated interruptions to work and careers.
Starting out at 10 a.m., carriers began delivering to the collection point about an hour later. There were plenty of volunteers on hand to help unload, carry and sort. Each contribution was separated and boxes filled with like materials to ease sorting duties at the food bank. Sorted boxes topped out at an average of 24 pounds each.
“It usually works out to about one dollar per pound of donations,” Gaudet calculated.
He was not able to stay at the site until sorting was complete, but noted the five-tonne cube van was about three quarters packed when he left.
Unfortunately, not all of the items will be usable, due to expiry dates, but Mallet says that the volume of waste is small compared to the value of what is useable.
“Sometimes donators are just cleaning out the cupboard. Perhaps they bought something on sale and haven’t used it,” Mallet explained.
Whether donating by intention or by convenience, however, postal employees were pleased with the response to the promotion.
“The number of donations and the volume were both up, better than the past couple of years,” thought Gordon Perry, who picked up from the Granville Street and Hillcrest areas and had to make two trips with his hatchback vehicle.
David Kirkpatrick, a 40-year Canada Post employee who has been a letter carrier for the last 10 years, was pleased with his route statistics.
“I have about 500 houses on my route, and it wouldn’t surprise me if more than 150 (25 to 35 per cent) donated today.”
Many of the residents on his route took time to chat as well, which Kirkpatrick considers a secondary benefit of the event.
Often, the families and friends of carriers will join in the effort.
“My kids look forward to it every year,” Gaudet revealed.
“It’s like going to work with Dad,” agreed his sons, Ben and Alex, though they didn’t figure crows would be as interested in the contents of a mail bag as they were in the contents of donation bags waiting for collection.