LO Post Office annual food drive on Saturday benefits FISH
By Jim Newell
Saturday is one of the busiest days of the year for postal carriers and the Lake Orion postal workers will be out doing their best to help Stamp Out Hunger.
The 30th annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive is May 14 and residents can help out their neighbors by leaving any amount of non-perishable food items in bags by their mailbox so postal carriers can swoop by to pick them up.
All donations from the Orion area will be given to Oxford/Orion FISH, which provides food and other items to people in need in Oxford, Orion, Addison and Oakland townships.
“It’s one of my favorite days of the year,” said postal carrier Leah Parker, adding she’s picked up a lot of food over the years. “A lot. My route is very generous. When it rains it’s a little bit worse, but when it’s nice out we pick up a ton of food. When it rains, we just tell people, ‘Put it in garbage bags and we’ll pick it up.’”
While letter carriers are out collecting food, others will be in the Post Office’s loading bay to help unload food from the mail trucks before it’s shipped off to FISH, said Dee Thompson, who organizes the Lake Orion Post Office food drive every year.
“19,228 pounds of food is what we had last year,” Thompson said.
“It’s 2022 – let’s go for 22,000 (pounds) this year,” Parker said. “We get to work a lot harder and we’re happier.”
“It’s the weirdest thing, but it works,” Thompson said.
The Lake Orion Post Office, 611 N. Axford St., also accepts food donations throughout the year.
“We keep a collection box in the lobby and people put food in there all year long,” Thompson said, adding that she’s noticed house cleaning products and pet food in the box recently. “I never would have thought of it myself.”
People are also asked to verify expiration dates: expired food can’t be put on the pantry shelves.
After postal carriers bring all the bounty back to the post office on Saturday, volunteer drivers shuttle the food to FISH’s headquarters, 1060 S. Lapeer Rd. in Oxford Twp., and more volunteers begin sorting through items.
“If it’s one can, it doesn’t matter, just put it out there,” Parker said.
“I’ve picked up one can with a $20 bill rubber banded to it. We’ll take cash too,” Thompson said.
In 2021, Oxford/Orion FISH visited 1,160 households, served 2,535 individuals and dispersed 112,288 pounds of food to local families.
FISH also provided 395 backpacks to area school children and donates gift cards to help families at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
People in need of groceries can call FISH at 248-628-3933 for information.
Anyone who would like to donate food can drop off donations from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday – Thursday or in the pantry drop box anytime. Monetary donations can be made online at www.oxfordorionfish.org, or mailed to Oxford/Orion FISH, P.O. Box 732, Lake Orion, MI 48361.
FISH also assists people with personal hygiene items: shampoo/conditioner, shaving cream and razors, as well as basic staples such as cereal, soup, snack treats, garbage bags, Kleenex, and more.
Stamp Out Hunger is a national food drive effort supported by the National Association of Letter Carriers. Last year, the Stamp Out Hunger food drive collected more than 71 million pounds of food nationwide.
The Lake Orion Post Office is part of NALC Branch 320, which serves north Oakland County.
For more information about the Stamp Out Hunger food drive, visit www.feedingamerica.org or www.nalc.org/community-servicefood-drive.