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On the hunt for donations

Hunting parties prowl through the Northland on Saturday seeking quarry bagged in paper and plastic during the 25th annual letter carrier food drive. What these volunteers find depends on the community.

Last year's event collected 153,104 pounds of food, including 27,213 pounds in Superior.

"This food drive is unique because it is Douglas County wide; it is not limited to the city limits," said Barb Certa-Werner with Faith United Methodist Church. "It is also organized so that, while the letter carriers are the sponsors, it is a community-wide effort."

Over the last 24 years, volunteers have collected 579,000 pounds of food in Superior. This year, Superior Postmaster Kermit Nelson hopes to top 600,000. All it would take is 21,000 pounds of food.

Donations will be distributed equally to food shelves at the Salvation Army of Superior, Faith United Methodist Church and Northwest Wisconsin Community Services Agency.

"The food drive is vital for the Faith United Methodist Church food shelf," Certa-Werner said. "We rely on the donated food to get us through a couple of months of providing food."

It also serves as a community support match when applying for other sources of food.

The annual collection comes at a time when holiday food donations have been depleted and summer vacation, when many children won't have access to school meal programs, is around the corner.

"Everybody at one time or another needs help sometime," Nelson said.

The Faith United food shelf has served 1,172 participants this year and continues to see its numbers increase. Thanks to a partnership with Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank there is food on the shelves, but the variety is limited.

"We could always use cereals, peanut butter and other proteins, fruit and vegetables," Certa-Werner said.

A postcard about the food drive, as well as a plastic bag provided by Super One Foods, will be delivered to mailboxes Thursday and Friday, Nelson said.

Nonperishable food donations should be bagged and on the doorstep by 9 a.m. Saturday. Needed items include peanut butter, pasta, rice, canned vegetables, fruits, meat and beans. Donors are asked to avoid expired items, dented cans, homemade foods and glass jars.

Volunteers are also needed to spot, secure and transport the bags.

"I think I've helped every year but two," Nelson said. "It's been a family thing for us all these years."

His children joined the hunt for years. Over the last three years, his granddaughter Ellen has been his tracker in Superior.

"She's a good spotter," Nelson said of the 7-year-old, who will help find bags of food on doorsteps Saturday.

Call the Superior Post Office at (715) 394-7209, to volunteer or stop by the facility, 805 Belknap St., at 8 a.m. Saturday. Volunteers need to have their own vehicle.

"We'll provide them with reflective vests and signs for the vehicle," Nelson said, while a number of local businesses serve up snacks for volunteers.