The National Association of Letter Carriers’ food drive once again made a special delivery to the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry in Newhall for its 27th year on Saturday in an effort to “stamp out hunger” with the largest food drive in the world.
Residents were asked to leave non-perishable food donations in their mailboxes in the morning, then postal workers picked them up during their normal route and bring them back to the post offices.
Volunteers then piled the food into carts for transport, and by 3 p.m., the donations began to arrive to the Food Pantry by the truckload.
“It’s kind of overwhelming at first, but then you get into the hang of things and it starts to go quicker,” said Quintin Woods, a 16-year-old volunteer. “I think it’s really cool to see just how much food the community donated.”
Volunteers then spent the next few hours sorting the food into bins to be stored either in one of the sheds on-site or on pallet boxes at the pantry’s nearby storage facility.
“They’ll fill all the sheds that are empty right now,” said Susan Caputo, executive director of the Food Pantry. “This means that we have plenty of food to give our clients all through the summer month when our donations tend to be a little bit lower.”
These donations help keep the pantry stocked during the summer months when the need is highest as children are out of school and don’t have the luxury of having access to their schools’ breakfast and lunch programs.
“It’s making families stretch their budgets even more when they’re already compromised,” Caputo said. “Everybody likes to think that it’s just homelessness and its just people that aren’t working, but most of our clients are working poor. This is a way to really help them out during the summer months, which is really nice.”
Scouts BSA Troop 303 have been coming to the event annually for the past three years.
“We really enjoy it, it’s one of the things we look forward to every year,” said Michelle Arana, troop committee member. “We are always looking for new community service projects for the boys.”
Volunteers remained at the food pantry until 8 p.m. to sort the donations. It will take the pantry months to actually sort through everything and pull it back from storage, according to Caputo.
“We’re all donation-supported and we have no government funding, so everything we do just comes in from grants and private donations like this,” Caputo said.