rough start, smooth finish

Published on: 5/11/2014

Saturday was a nice day to help out with the nation's largest single-day food drive: the National Letter Carrier's Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, now in it's 22nd year.

Even though the plastic grocery bag dropped at the house stated food would go to Hunger Task Force, Waukesha's collections are split between the Waukesha Food Pantry and Salvation Army of Waukesha. I got to Salvation Army at 9:00 with plans to drive around and collect bags from a route or two. Before we could get started, though, we got the call that plans had changed.

Some volunteer drivers were already out collecting bags and the post office was receiving calls that strangers were taking the food meant for the postal carriers.  I've personally done this exact same thing before, for the Food Pantry. I'm sure this has come up other years? Not the first time in 22 years nationwide that volunteers have helped carriers with the food. Can you imagine how difficult routes would be if carriers had to carry all the heavy canned goods on their walking routes? But that's what was expected, at the last minute, yesterday.

I had a hard time imagining changing the rules of such a huge production after it had already started. Details were vague, I didn't get in on the conversation, but for a while it sounded like carriers might have to bring all their groceries back to the post office as well, versus calling for a pick up.

Since I wasn't needed I didn't stick around, but left my number in case I could be of help later in the day. I was able to check out the Retzer native plant sale and complete grocery shopping before the phone rang.

Sorters were busily working when I got back to SA and things looked calm and organized. I was given two Waukesha mail routes to find the carriers and help empty their trucks. Found them both without problem and took groceries back to SA for sorting and boxing.

Picking up the groceries took but half an hour, but I stuck around to see if I could help in other areas. I ended up staying another 3-1/2 hours! 

My warehouse skills aren't all that technical, but they sure came in handy yesterday with moving heavy pallets of canned goods off the truck, on and off the scale, and storing in the SA pantry. There were plenty of able-bodied persons to help move heavy boxes and pallets, but having the related work experience just seemed to make things go more smoothly. With my experience around trucks, liftgates and pallet jacks, and my safety mentality, I just felt useful and didn't mind staying longer than planned.

Much thanks to all the hard working letter carriers and volunteers, and those generous Waukesha folk who donated to this food drive.