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Food drive in Lehigh largest ever

May 19, 2010

Rae Nicely said she felt as if she was on Cloud Nine as she pointed to 20,000 pounds of donated food to her agency, Lehigh Community Services, during the letter carriers food drive.

"The carriers were bringing food in here all day. We had about 16 or so volunteers helping. We're still working on sorting and getting the food onto our pantry shelves," she said.

The letter carriers drive was Saturday, May 8. All over the county, residents were asked to leave non-perishable food at their mailboxes and letter carriers would pick food up and it would be given to area agencies that help people who need food.

Article Photos

Lots of Food: Rae Nicely, executive director of Lehigh Community Services, stands in one of the pantry rooms which is filled with food that was collected by letter carriers. She said that some 20,000 pounds of food was collected by local carriers. Photo by Mel Toadvine

Across the county, residents donated a record amount of food, some 445,500 pounds collected in the one-day food drive.

Postmaster Anne Murray in Fort Myers said in addition to a record amount of food, $7,820 in donations were received as well.

"That converts to $46,920 in value with Harry Chapin Food Bank's ability to purchase $6 in food items for every dollar donated," Murray said.

All the food donated in the drive will be available to local agencies at no charge by Harry Chapin Food Bank. Other agencies who received food from post offices in their communities included Wake Up America, Pine Island Food Pantry, Lighthouse Sanctuary of Alva, Salvation Army of LaBelle, Lehigh Community Services, Interfaith Caregivers and Cafe of Life.

Murray said she wanted to thank everyone who gave and all the volunteers who helped pick up and sort the food at locations all over the county.

All the food collected by letter carriers in Lehigh stays in Lehigh.

Nicely said she is considering coming up with a plan where those who are eligible for food can come in and pick out what they want, instead of just being given a plastic bag of groceries.

Besides all the food, a record for Lehigh Community Services, Nicely also had received good news the week before.

She and her board of directors are being given $400,000 in Obama stimulus money to purchase a building to house Lehigh Community Services which now includes the United Way House, and a site where people can come in for other services.

"The people of Lehigh are good people and they surely came out and helped us. We are very grateful," she said.

If you didn't have an opportunity to leave food at your mailbox or were out of town and want to donate food, you can take it to their offices at 9 Beth Stacey Blvd.



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