“We’re at 9,750 pounds and still counting,” said Cindy Balderas, treasurer of Powell Valley Loaves and Fishes, on Wednesday. “We couldn’t be more excited and thrilled with the turnout.”
Balderas said she believes Saturday’s effort was the largest food drive ever for the local food pantry.
The numbers fluctuate, but local food drives usually provide about 6,000 pounds of food.
Going into busy summer months, when the pantry sees an increase in use, the shelves are now replenished.
“This has given us a boost in the arm for our summer and early fall,” Balderas said.
Local U.S. Postal Service employees collected nonperishable food along with mail on Saturday as part of the National Association of Letter Carriers’ “Stamp Out Hunger” Food Drive. For the first time, local residents received reusable blue bags in their mailboxes to fill with food.
Balderas said she believed the reusable bags helped in several ways. Not only can they be used for future drives, but they were stronger and didn’t tear.
“They were a visual reminder — ‘We need your help, and we’re coming to collect food,’” Balderas added.
Those unable to fill the bags with food were asked to return them for future use.
Balderas said there were a few small hiccups, such as one part of town not receiving bags, but overall, it was a great success.
“We’re so pleased and so thankful for our Postal Service,” she said. While it was a nation-wide food drive, the Powell Post Office “went above and beyond on Saturday,” Balderas said.
She thanked local letter carriers, volunteers and the community for making the drive “a tremendous success.”
“Our community is so generous to us, and not just to us, but to all nonprofits and service organizations,” Balderas said. “It was the whole community, in town and the country.”
In addition to thousands of pounds of food, the community’s generosity showed itself in other ways. Domino’s Pizza donated pizza and drinks for workers. The Park County Annex in Powell, where the food pantry is located, remained open Saturday as food was unloaded and stored. The building’s custodian then stayed late to clean up, making sure the annex was ready for Monday morning, Balderas said.
“We were just overwhelmed with the community spirit and everyone helping out,” she said. “It was an all-around wonderful, successful food drive.”