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The Bismarck Letter Carriers Association will again be partnering with Missouri Slope Areawide United Way to collect nonperishable food items May 12 as a part of the Stamp Out Hunger Program.

It is the 20th year for both the national and local program, said Dewey Reinert, a mail carrier who is the coordinator for the food drive.

Residents will be given a plastic bag in or near their mailboxes. They can fill the bags and place them next to their mail drops on or before the morning of May 12.

With the help of United Way volunteers, letter carriers will pick up the donations while they deliver mail. Other volunteers will sort the food between 1 and 6 p.m. that Saturday at the Bismarck Expressway postal office.

“We’d like to collect 50,000 pounds of food this year,” Reinert said. In 2011, the effort fell short of its goal due to the flood fight with some 36,000 pounds of food collected, compared to 49,000 pounds in 2010.

Very rainy conditions during last year’s collection day also lowered donations, according to Reinert. He estimates in the past 20 years, the local drive has collected half a million pounds of food for Bismarck causes. Nationwide, the project has brought in 70 million pounds in 2011 and close to 1 billion pounds total over 20 years.

“For the walking routes, volunteers have used their own trucks to collect the items for the carrier,” Reinert said. “Some carriers get excited. They’ll get their spouses to help collect the food.”

“It gives us a sense of belonging to the community. It feels good to make a small difference,” Reinert said.

Melissa Wulf, marketing director for the Missouri Slope Areawide United Way, said up to 50 of the nonprofit’s volunteers are expected to assist carriers move the food donations and sort them at the Bismarck Expressway postal site.

She said a number agencies that United Way supports locally will benefit from the collection — Ruth Meiers Hospitality House, Youthworks, the Salvation Army, Welcome House, Bismarck Emergency Food Pantry, Child’s Hope Learning Center, Dacotah Foundation, the Abused Adult Resource Center, Community Action and Charles Hall Youth Services.

“This is typically the time of the year when food shelves run low,” Wulf said. “This helps replenish the pantries.”

For more information about volunteering for the project, call 255-3601 or visit

Reach reporter LeAnn Eckroth at 250-8264 or