MORRISVILLE BOROUGH >> Retired Morrisville Letter Carrier Frank Powell smiled broadly as truck after truck arrived at the entrance to the Morrisville YMCA Saturday afternoon, each brimming with bags and boxes filled with food.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Powell of the amount of food arriving at the site. “When you get a call from a driver that their truck is filled and they have only done a quarter of their route, that’s amazing. There’s a great need in the community and thank God people have been more than generous.”
Bill Davis, the president of the National Letter Carriers Association Branch 2572, agreed.
“This is an amazing year based on the amount of food we’ve been picking up. Kudos to Frank Powell and JoAnn Gigliotti. It’s very smooth the way they run it,” said Davis. “And the volunteers, they make it a lot easier helping the carriers unload their trucks and keeping them moving.
“From what I can see, our customers over extended themselves this year positively,” Davis continued. “I’m very pleased with the response and the food we’re getting. And we are keeping it local. All the food is going to four food banks in 19067. It’s going to help out a lot of people.”
Inside the YMCA building, the place was bustling as close to 100 volunteers were busy sorting food and packing items into boxes for delivery to four local food banks and eventual distribution to those in need.
Among those providing the muscle, including carrying food from the trucks to the sorting tables, were volunteers from Good Friends Inc., a community-based residential drug and alcohol treatment center for adult men whose food bank will benefit from the drive.
“It’s fulfilling knowing that all this work that is being put in is going to help somebody,” said Kirk Diggs, the food services manager and maintenance coordinator at Good Friends. “It might be a child or a mother. That makes it all the more worthwhile coming here and helping out.
“I applaud our Letter Carriers for taking the time to do this,” he adds. “It’s a lot of work to fill one of those trucks with food and to go out again for more. It’s amazing. And also the people who made the donations. This is a very generous area.”
Saturday’s 19067 food drive, begun about 30 years ago by Letter Carriers Ruth Schafer and Erica Guthrie, is part of the National Letter Carriers’ “Stamp Out Hunger” campaign, which last year brought in 71 million pounds of food nationwide.
While that may seem like a big number, Powell said it’s just a drop in the bucket in what’s needed out there. That’s what motivates him to keep pressing forward with his involvement in the drive.
“If you look at it, there’s 50 million who are food insecure so that’s only a pound of food for each person,” says Powell.
“And a lot of them are children and senior citizens,” adds Andrea Goodwin, Vice President of NALC Branch 2572 who worked closely with Frank in coordinating the drive. “And you never know when it’s you who is going to need it.”
This is the 25th year Powell has coordinated the local Letter Carriers Food Drive with the help of another 25 year food drive veteran, JoAnn Gigliotti of Holy Trinity Church, who organizes the packing crew inside the YMCA.
Since Powell and Gigliotti have been involved, the Letter Carriers have collected an amazing 550,000 pounds of food, averaging about 28,000 pound year year over the past four years.
Powell said about four years ago the Letter Carriers introduced plastic bags donated by the Central Labor Council to the food drive effort. Since then, they’ve seen donations jump from 16,000 to just shy of 30,000 pounds of food a year.
Goodwin said she would love to see that number grow to 70,000 pounds. “I want to have so much food that we’re sorting it for three days,” she says.
On food drive day, Powell starts his day early, arriving at the Morrisville Post Office at 7 a.m. to brief the Letter Carriers on the operation.
“Then throughout the day I’m usually on a truck,” said Powell, who worked for 33 years as a Letter Carrier in Lower Makefield prior to his retirement. “We go out to specifically help the walking routes in Morrisville and Yardley. We don’t get it all. The Carriers still have a lot to do. But I try to get as much as I can.”
He’s also assisted by a group of retired Letter Carriers who come out and help. “That helps because they know all the streets,” he says.
This year, Powell estimated that around 29,000 pounds would be collected by the local Letter Carriers and redistributed to four local food banks within the community - Holy Trinity Church, First Presbyterian Church, Good Friends and the Interfaith Food Alliance.
“If it wasn’t for our Letter Carriers we couldn’t do this and we thank them,” said Powell.
“Our Letter Carriers are in the community every day. We are the eyes and ears of our neighborhoods. This is just another way that we’re helping,” adds Goodwin.
“And of course, we thank our customers. They make all of this possible through their generous giving,” said Powell.
“It’s overwhelming,” added Goodwin. “It fills your heart. This zip code is very generous. And the good weather helps, too.”