There's something about donating food that makes it an enormously effective form of charity. Perhaps it speaks to a basic human need to share one's larder, or perhaps it's simply easier than other forms of giving. Whatever the reason, this week's Postal Service campaign for area food banks is a stunning success.
In just two days, area residents left 375,000 pounds of canned, boxed, bottled and plastic wrapped foodstuffs near their mailboxes. Neighborhood letter carriers, the critical link in this chain of caring, are hauling donations back to their post offices where they are boxed and trucked to the Maryland Food Bank.
From there, these donations will find their way to thousands of Marylanders in need. For a few days, a hungry child may go to bed with a full belly. A homeless person may spend fewer nights foraging for food. A single mother in crisis may have powdered or canned milk for her toddlers.
This effort demonstrates what can be achieved with a little creativity and commitment. What began as in-house food drives at the Postal Service and the Social Security Administration quickly turned competitive. Someone at the Postal Service cooked up the idea of not only donating food but encouraging people along postal routes to pitch in. Letter carriers left an estimated 1.5 million fliers at homes and businesses on their routes. Chesapeake Graphic Impressions in Glen Burnie printed the mailing for free. Postal workers are volunteering their time packing food. As of Wednesday, Maryland Food Bank Director Bill Ewing anticipated a flood of food that could well surpass the amount raised by the Bags of Plenty drive over an 11-day period late last year.
The spirit of giving need not end with the completion of the Postal Service drive. It can be kept alive all year long by people willing to give of themselves. Maryland has many other employers, large and small, who can and should become links in the chain of perpetual giving. It's not too late to lend a helping hand in the current drive. The Maryland Food Bank is looking for volunteers to help box donations. Interested? Call Karen Gahm at 947-1852.