A recent one-day postal food drive broke all local records.
On May 14, Payson mail carriers collected 10,334 pounds of food during their normal mail routes, surpassing last year’s total by nearly 2,500 pounds.
Payson beat out 33 other postal stations in the district, being the only one to see an increase in donations.
“I felt it was going to be a good year,” said postal carrier Elaine Richardson. “Payson is always so generous.”
Richardson credits the local media, including radio and print, for pushing the drive through to readers and listeners.
The 19th Annual National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger National Food Drive is the only day during the year when carriers are allowed to collect food during their routes.
Locally, all donated food is given to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank. Every month, St. Vincent gives out as much as 30,000 pounds of food to more than 500 families or 2,000 people.
Last year, Payson carriers collected 7,900 pounds, enough to beat out 12 other stations from Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek, Scottsdale, Winslow, Show Low and Superior.
“We should be very proud of the great support our community gives,” Richardson said.
An estimated 1 million Arizonans sought emergency food from charities in the last year, an 85 percent increase from four years ago. Locally over the last few years, food bank organizers saw a huge increase in the number of people needing help.
After the holidays, the need seemed to level off, but organizers warn it is impossible to predict how many people will show up on any given day.
For this reason, the food bank is always stockpiling donations.
Nationally since the program launched in 1993, carriers have collected more than 1 billion pounds of donated food. More than 10,000 cities participate.