BONIFAY - Doing a good deed this weekend can be as easy as lifting the flag on your mailbox.
National Association of Letter Carriers 26th Annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is Saturday. Participation is as simple as loading a sack with non-perishable items and hanging them on the mailbox or placing them inside or beside it.
The food collected is distributed to local food banks.
Bonifay Post Master Larry Fern, who has worked for the postal service for 12 years, said the small gesture of kindness has its reward. He said as a former carrier he had always associated it with Mother's Day - "my Mother's Day drive because it's always done the day before Mother's Day."
His shoulders would be sore from lifting innumerable bags of food donations on his route. It was worth it, he said.
"Just to help others, people in need," Fern said. "It makes you feel good to help others."
Head Clerk at the Bonifay office Misty Erickson recalls a year the community donated 3,500 pounds of food. However, she has noticed a need for more support.
"It seems like every year it kind of dwindles down," she said, noting about 1,500 pounds collected more recently.
"The further out we can get the word out, it seems to help - they'll leave food out," Erickson added.
The top requested non-perishable good items, according to NALC are: cereal, pasta, pasta sauce or spaghetti sauce, rice, canned fruits and vegetables, canned meals (such as soups, chili and pasta), 100% juice, peanut butter, macaroni & cheese, canned protein (tuna, chicken and turkey), beans (canned or dry). You also can donate healthy, low-sodium, low-sugar items such as beans, oatmeal and other whole grains, and canola or olive oil.
"It's definitely helping the local people need and it's the brotherly thing to do," said Gale Stacy, Supervisor of Customer Service at Chipley's branch of U.S. Postal Service. "We're blessed and if we can help others in this small way, it's a good opportunity and makes it convenient for people to donate."
Although Stacy couldn't immediately recall the amount of pounds collected last year, she said she too has noticed that donations had dwindled over the years and hopes this year - with more advance advertising - the word would get out and more people will help "stamp out hunger."
All food donations for the drive are tax-deductible. As charities are the recipients, the charity - not the postal service - must be listed on your tax forms in order to receive credit.