Della Middleton’s eyes lit up as she examined the tall postal roll cart laden with non-perishable food items, earmarked specifically for her organization, Mr. Window Soup Kitchen.
“This will make such a difference,” she attested as she and volunteers Tonya Bennett and Oscar Bennett prepared to load their portion of 2,150 pounds of food collected by Clinton and Sampson mail carriers during last Saturday’s Stamp Out Hunger campaign conducted annually by the U.S. Postal Service.
“There are just so many people to thank, Middleton said. “We really appreciate the mail carriers taking the extra time to collect the food, and, of course, we owe a big thank you to every resident who donated items for this drive. It’s such a blessing; it will help us feed so many people who are hungry and in need of a good meal.”
Those words were echoed by a group from First Baptist Church, 408 College St., who were also chosen as recipients of some of the collected food from last weekend’s drive, along with U Care.
“This is just wonderful,” said Katie Deans. “It will help us provide food for our meals on Thursdays. We prepare meals for anyone who comes in our doors each Thursday night. We don’t turn anyone away. We so much appreciate the work of the carriers, the post office and the community which donated this food.”
First Baptist offers meals every Thursday evening, from 5 until 7 p.m. Patsy Williams said they serve anywhere from 100 to 150 people per week. “We are dependent upon donations to help us provide those meals, so this is greatly appreciated … very much so,” she stressed.
At Mr. Window, meals are served once a month under the shelter at the Sampson Center. There are usually over 200 people there to receive a meal — men, women and children. Some, Middleton said, were homeless, others just hungry and in need of a good meal. In addition, the volunteers transport additional meals to members of the community who are shut-in or unable to find a way down to the kitchen.
“We help a lot of children through this,” Tonya Bennett said, adding that volunteers not only serve up meals, they provide scripture reading as well. “We are trying to feed both the flesh and the spirit.”
While the group is looking for a building, they said they will continue to operate from the Sampson Center sheltered area until such time as they are able to move.
The group noted the need in the community and their appreciation to all those who participated in the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.
“We don’t take this lightly, believe me. We depend upon donations; without them, we wouldn’t be able to feed those who need it,” Middlelton said, offering thanks to their pastor Onyx Martin and his wife Cathie who help make the ministry possible.
U Care staff members Adolph Platt and Larry Robinson also offered appreciation to all those who’d made it possible for them to collect a postal cart loaded with food, items they will use to both serve meals to domestic violence victims and their families being sheltered at the facility or placed in a care package with those leaving the shelter for their residence.
With the year closing out for the domestic violence shelter, the men said now was a great time to receive such a generous donation. “Every donation is helpful. Our year runs out on June 30, so are funds are dwindling now. This contribution comes at a perfect time,” Robinson said.
All three groups said they were grateful that carriers had selected their organizations as recipients of the food donations, and the smiles on their faces told a story of deep appreciation.
It was something not lost on local postmaster Linda Cooper, who only arrived at the Clinton post office about four weeks ago.
Despite the transition she said the local post office had been in, Cooper said she was determined to make the Stamp Out Hunger campaign a success.
“I really wanted more,” Cooper said, “but I’m also very grateful for what we collected. I have to offer a big thank you to our mail carriers and to the community for their willingness to donate the food.”
Cooper and postal supervisor Kenny Morrisey provided a pot luck dinner for all the carriers last Saturday, their way of saying thanks for helping with the food drive and their acknowledgement that doing so meant extra time for them.
The local postal service has participated in the Stamp Out Hunger food drive for over 26 years, carriers said, and have appreciated the community’s participation.
And they are equally glad to be able to help out organizations such as Mr. Window, U Care and First Baptist who, they said, give back to those in need.
That sentiment was returned by members of all three organizations. “This will make such a difference for so many,” Tonya Bennett said. “We just thank everyone who was involved.”