The postman will ring twice Saturday
Lawrence postal carriers will have double duty Saturday -- not only will they pick up and deliver mail, but they'll be collecting food for the city's needy.
"This is the second annual food drive in Lawrence," said Don Gaston, who is coordinating the project.
The food drive is sponsored by the local chapter of the National Association of Letter Carriers, the U.S. Postal Service and United Way of Douglas County.
Letter carriers, helped by volunteers, will collect nonperishable food at mail boxes along their regular home delivery routes on Saturday.
Local residents who wish to participate can place the food, preferably not in glass containers, by their mailboxes or hang them on their mail boxes, Gaston said.
He asked that food items be placed at mailboxes before 10 a.m. or at least before the time the carriers usually deliver mail.
Carriers who normally walk their routes will be assisted by postal retirees or volunteers in vehicles, he said.
"It may not be their regular carrier that picks up the food. We have retirees and people who are off duty who will be helping," he said. "They will be in uniform or in a food drive T-shirt."
Food can also be dropped off at the city's post offices, he said.
"The food is distributed through the United Way to the Salvation Army, Penn House, Ballard Center, the Lawrence Indian Center and ECKAN," Gaston said."All the food collected in the Lawrence area stays in Lawrence."
Gaston said although this is the second year for the drive in Lawrence, the food drive program was started about 10 years ago by one letter carriers' union chapter. Since then, chapters across the country have been adopting the idea, he said.
"Last year there were over 700 branches involved and this year more than 1,000 are involved," he said.
Last year, Lawrence letter carriers collected 12,600 pounds of food, he said.
"It was a pretty good year for our first year," he said. "We really haven't set any goals for this year. I would just like to see an increase over last year."
He said because of all the volunteer help, regular mail delivery should not be noticeably slowed on Saturday.
"I'm excited that they're doing this again," said Barb Smith, executive director of United Way of Douglas County.
"Last year they got over six tons of food for the area food banks and made a considerable difference in people's lives," Smith said. "I'm just glad that they're doing it again."