Help stock pantries

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By Kirsten Laskey

On Saturday morning, the Los Alamos community is encouraged to leave something other than letters or bill payments in their mailboxes.

The Los Alamos Letter Carriers Union (NALC-4112) will pick up nonperishable food items as part of the 16th Annual National Association of Letter Carriers National Food Drive. Los Alamos letter carriers will not be doing this alone; letter carriers in White Rock, along with the Northern New Mexico District of Boy Scouts of America, will be collecting food items for LA Cares.

Boy Scouts will be stationed from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at Smith’s in Los Alamos and from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at Smith’s in White Rock Saturday to collect food.

Other community entities will pitch in as well; for instance, the Knights of Columbus provides its hall for sorting the food and volunteers pitch in to unpack and organize the food.

Lesley Olsher, MSW, case manager for LA Cares, expressed her gratitude to everyone involved in the drive. “We thank them very sincerely for their efforts,” she said.

Additionally, there is teamwork exhibited by LA Cares. “We are a team of nine people,” Olsher said. “Nine volunteer board members dedicated to make this food distribution work. There‘s a whole group of us that really works hard.”

Now the community is asked to join the effort. Food donations should be nonperishable foods. Do not donate anything in glass containers. Items that are highly needed include healthy cereals, low sugar canned fruits, healthy snacks, canned meats, such as chicken, tuna and stews, and healthy organic soups.

Monetary donations will also be accepted. Checks, made out to LA Cares, can be sent to P.O. Box 248, Los Alamos.

For non-food donations, including diapers size four-five, call LA Cares at 661-8015 to arrange a pickup.

In addition to food and other necessities, people are also encouraged to volunteer their time. They can help unpack and sort food from 2-5 p.m. Saturday at the Knights of Columbus.

With the demand for food high, the hope is the community will help satisfy this need. Olsher said in the past, the average number of food boxes handed out monthly was 40-50. Currently, that number has risen to 70-80 boxes per month.

However, the community has already responded to this increasing need. Olsher said some food pantries in the U.S. have practically bare shelves but because of local residents’ donations, LA Cares always has food to give.

“We appreciate everything Los Alamos does for us,” Olsher said.

Jim Evans, food drive coordinator, added the NALC National Food Drive has a history of being successful in the local area. About 10,000 pounds of food are typically collected.

Olsher said, “One of reasons is people like the fact that a number of groups are working together.”

Plus, Evans said, “It’s very easy for people to help out.”

“This is a way people can definitely give back,” Olsher said.

She added people don’t like knowing there are locals who are hungry. If someone doesn’t get a box of food, they may not get to eat for a while.

To make sure everyone’s pantry is full, LA Cares hosts monthly food distributions. To get a box of food, call LA Cares and leave your name, phone number and address, and the number of family members. Also, mention any special needs such food for pets or health issues. Food recipients must have a Los Alamos address.

If donors have any questions about what to donate for the food drive, call Evans at 663-1041.