The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

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May 12, 2014

Room runneth over: Postal food drive replenishes food banks

— Elkmont resident Laura Aldridge spent most of the weekend and all day Monday  driving through the Athens area, transporting and sorting nonperishable food items collected by local mail carriers.

But she did not mind the extra heavy lifting and driving duties, since the 22nd Stamp Out Hunger food drive restocks the Athens-Limestone Emergency Food and Shelter in Tanner and the Christian Helping Others food bank in Ardmore each spring.

Aldridge, in her fourth year as ALEFS director, said Athens and Tanner residents’ donations go toward the Tanner shelter, which serves residents countywide. She said Elkmont and Ardmore contributions are distributed through CHO.

“We’ve gotten two 24-foot U-Haul trucks full of food, plus four or five vans full of food,” she said Monday in between sorting through hundreds of postal bins spilling over with donated items. “We also have filled a room at Tanner First United Methodist Church.”

Volunteers will spend the remainder of the week sorting everything from cooking oil and canned food to boxed rice and tea into categorized barrels. Mail carriers spent Saturday picking up the donated food from residents’ mailboxes while completing their regular routes.

The National Association of Letter Carriers sponsors the annual food drive, hauling in a record 74.4 million pounds nationwide last year.

Last year’s local drive brought in 78,000 items to the Tanner shelter, Aldridge said. She estimated this year’s drive will exceed last year’s haul, adding more than 100,000 items to the food pantries at ALEFS and CHO.

“It’s neighbors helping needy neighbors, and it’s amazing to me how wonderful the people of Limestone County are because they just came through again and replenished us,” she said.

For more information about volunteer opportunities at ALEFS, call 256-230-6311. Food donations are accepted 9 a.m.-noon Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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