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Stamp out hunger

Whidbey postal employees invite island dwellers to partake in the 17th annual “Stamp out Hunger” food drive on Saturday, May 9, and residents don’t even have to leave their front yards.

“This one-day food drive provides much needed assistance to our local food banks,” Dale Holzboog, National Association of Letter Carriers representative, said.

Saturday will be Holzboog’s 14th food drive, said the long-time Oak Harbor mail carrier.

Island postal employees will collect nonperishable items left in a bag next to home mailboxes on Saturday and donate the food to the North Whidbey Help House in Oak Harbor, Gifts from the Heart Food Bank in Coupeville and South Whidbey Good Cheer Food Bank in Langley. Donations may also be dropped off at the local post offices on Friday.

“Over the last 16 years, the response has been tremendous,” Holzboog said. “I’m always amazed.” Oak Harbor residents typically donate between 8,000 and 10,000 pounds of food during the “Stamp out Hunger” drive.

Last year Whidbey Island postal carriers collected more than 18,000 pounds of nonperishable items during the drive, he said, adding that the need for such donations is expected to grow by 15 percent this year.

The need for food assistance is not limited to holidays, Holzboog said, but it continues every day and is often the result of illness, injury, job loss and the current economy, among other reasons.

North Whidbey Help House supplied more than 6,900 food baskets over the last year that fed 17,718 people. So far this year, the Oak Harbor-based food bank saw an increase of five additional requests for assistance each week, he said.

“Despite all our efforts, hunger remains a daily challenge for many people in our community,” Holzboog said. “Many of those in need are children and a growing number of our elderly.”

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