Long Island food drive could help feed thousands

- Persian Gulf War veteran Tim Schell's transition back into society hasn't been an easy one.

"You never know when you'll be at your lowest time," Schell said. "And I never thought I would."

Many times he'd have to choose between feeding his family or paying rent until Island Harvest Food Bank started helping him.

"It's nice to know that they're there when you never know that they are," Schell said.

President and CEO Randi Shubin Dresner said some 300,000 people on Long Island are fighting the same battle as Tim. The United States Postal Service's Stamp Out Hunger food drive is Saturday, May 14. It's the largest one-day drive. Dresner said feeding the needy has never been so easy.

"When we're able to collect well over 300,000 pounds of food from our neighbors on Saturday, that's going to help us provide close to 200, 250,000 meals for people all across Long Island," Dresner said.

"The Long Island postal district has over 1 million deliveries," said Walter Barton, the president of the National Association of Letter Carriers. "If every customer donated just one pound of food we could collect 1 million pounds on Saturday."

Here's how it works: leave nonperishable food items in or near your mailbox on Saturday. Letter carriers will collect donations as they deliver the mail.

"Over the next couple of weeks all of the food that's donated will be out on the shelves at food pantries and then soon after that on the tables of our neighbors all across Long Island," Dresner said.

Susan Delgado helps feed nearly 300 families a week at a pantry in Selden. Her advice?

"Give whatever you can and then give a little more," Delgado said. "Your neighbor could be the one who is coming to us for food and you don't even know it."

Ed Ercole, who volunteers in Brentwood, said a little goes a long way.

"When you look in their face and their eyes tell you they're thankful," Ercole said. 

In 2015, Stamp Out Hunger collected more than 70 million pounds of food nationwide. This year they're hoping to top that.

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