Friday, May 7, 2004 | 9:42 a.m.
The National Association of Letter Carriers is asking Las Vegas Valley residents to stock their mailboxes with nonperishables for the annual Help Stamp Out Hunger food drive Saturday.
The drive, which is being conducted in all 50 states and U.S. territories, is the largest food drive of the year for local charities, including the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, St. Jude's Ranch for Children and Jewish Family Services, according to Jerry Penn, coordinator of the food drive for National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 2502 in Las Vegas.
"The food drive is simple, but so very critical," Penn said. "Just leave canned foods or other nonperishables in your mailbox or on top of the mailbox or on the ground nearby, and your postman will pick it up."
Albertsons donated 288,000 plastic bags that will be distributed into valley mailboxes today for people to fill with items and leave for mail carriers Saturday, Penn said.
Food collected from Saturday's drive will be used to restock charities' food pantries and feed Las Vegans in need through the summer, he said.
Last year the food drive generated 650,000 pounds of food in Las Vegas, Penn said. This year letter carriers are aiming to bring in even more, he said.
"Our goal is to get 750,000 pounds of food," he said. "And with the growing population of the city, we think we can do it."
Mail carriers are also accepting other "mailbox donations" Saturday, including toothpaste, diapers, baby formula and toiletries, Penn said.
Charles Desiderio, director of development and marketing at the Salvation Army of Southern Nevada, said the charity looks forward to the Help Stamp Out Hunger drive every year.
"This is one of the super ones," he said. "The letter carriers are awesome and always happy to do it."
The local Salvation Army received over 100,000 pounds of food from the drive in May 2003, he said.
"After this drive, we'll have our warehouses jam packed for the next three months, give or take," he said. "So you can see how important it is to us. We're excited."