Stamp Out Hunger 2018, Seattle, WA
On 12 May 2018, members of the Sai Centers in the Seattle area, alongside volunteers from Food Lifeline (www.foodlifeline.org), participated in one of USA’s largest single-day food drive called “Stamp Out Hunger”. This annual event, organized by the United States Postal Service (USPS), encourages people to donate non-perishable food items and leave them in blue bags next to their mail boxes. The USPS mail carriers who deliver their mail, collect these blue bags and bring them back to the post offices where volunteers are on standby, to sort and pack the food donations and get them ready to be transported to warehouses.
During this year’s event, Sai Center volunteers assembled at the designated Post Office, ready to collect food bags from the mail carriers and load them to large totes. Multiple carriers arrived one after the other, sometimes six to seven at the same time, which required us to be quick and vigilant in loading these bags from the carriers to the totes. These totes were later shipped in large trucks to Food Lifeline warehouses. At the warehouse, another set of volunteers sorted and inspected the food items, which were then distributed to food banks and finally given to those in need.
A Sai volunteer described his experience saying, “pushing carts around and loading food items into bins was so much fun. At the same time, it was very inspiring to see the incredible teamwork and how much everyone in the entire food donation chain were eager to help, from the people in the neighborhood generously donating food items, to the USPS mail carrier drivers who picked these donations, to the volunteers sorting and packing them”. A young adult noted, “While waiting for a carrier, we shared a lot of inspiring stories among the volunteers and with the post office organizers. We realized that there were many good Samaritans within our community who silently carry out loving service with no fanfare”.
Within just a few hours, we were able to collect half a million pounds of food which were loaded into two large trucks, amounting to an equivalent of more than 400,000 meals! We felt very gratified for the opportunity to play a tiny role in this great mission of the Stamp Out Hunger food drive.