Sandy Hayton spotted a green bag underneath a mailbox while her husband navigated the roads of northeast Columbia.
“There’s food,” she announced as he pulled over to the side. She exited, grabbed the bag and added it to the growing pile of food donation bags in the couple’s van.
It is a scene that played out again and again across The Food Bank’s 32-county service area during the National Association of Letter Carrier’s 25th annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive. Food and funds are still coming in, and a total amount raised should be available in the coming weeks.
Rich and Sandy Hayton have participated in the drive for the past decade. They originally got involved through the First United Methodist Church in Jefferson City. After retiring from their respective state jobs and moving to Columbia, they opted to continue to participate in the nationwide drive.
“Never miss an opportunity for Christian fellowship,” Rich said, adding that he is always heartened by the generosity of those who give during the event.
Randall and Kirsten Adams have also participated for years. Randall got involved after starting his career with the postal service in 2004. These days, both he and his wife, Kirsten, who also works at the post office, take the day off to be a part of the event.
"Every year it gets better," Randall said. "I know friends who have used the pantry, and we know this is contributing to a good cause. It keeps kids fed."
Volunteers are also critical to the success of the drive, helping collect food along postal routes and sorting non-perishable items at post offices in Columbia, Jefferson City and other communities.
“Stamp Out Hunger is a wonderful day of collecting food and funds to help feed neighbors in need,” said Lindsay Young Lopez, The Food Bank’s executive director. “Volunteers make it an even more rewarding experience. Thank you to everyone who helped out this year.”