By Tim Eberly
Don't be alarmed if you see vehicles following Havre postal workers around on their routes Saturday.
They won't be harassing your neighborhood mailman. Most of the people inside the trailing automobiles will be family or friends of the mail carriers, assisting in the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.
This week, to contribute to the food drive, area residents can drop off non-perishable food in the lobby of the Havre Post Office, or they can leave goods near their mailboxes on Saturday. Postal workers and volunteers will take care of the rest.
"They can leave it right there by their mailboxes and we'll pick it up," said Melissa Jamieson, spokeswoman for the food drive.
This is the 10th year of the NALC Food Drive. The Havre Post Office, which has participated in the event since its inception, collected about 4,500 pounds of canned and dry food in 2001. The goal for the 2002 food drive, Jamieson said, is to gather 6,000 pounds of food.
"We think it's a great program," said Jamieson, one of 10 full-time mail carriers in Havre. "We enjoy helping out the community. Everybody is excited about it. It's good to give back."
The food will be distributed to two local organizations, the Give Away House in North Havre and the Human Resources Development Council's domestic violence program. Employees and volunteers from both organizations will be helping with the drive.
"I think it's great that the carriers here in Havre do it," Richard O'Leary, postmaster for the Havre Post Office, said today. "They go beyond their normal duties to pick it up on their route. They also have the support of their families that ride with them and pick it up. I think it's a great thing for Hill County."
In 2001, post offices in Montana gathered 405,000 pounds for the effort. The national tally more than 10,000 communities and post offices participated amounted to 70 million pounds.
The month of May is an ideal time for food drives, Jamieson said, because many supplies donated during the holidays have been depleted.
Canned meat, tuna, soup and fruits and vegetables are needed. Dried milk is also an ideal item for donation.
Every 1.3 pounds of donated food is equal to one full meal, according to a press release from the United States Postal Service.
Nearby post offices, including Gildford and Box Elder, are also involved in the nationwide effort, Jamieson said.