Saturday, May 10, marks the 22nd Anniversary of one of America's great days of giving -- the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.

Letter carriers walk through the community every day, often coming face to face with a sad reality for too many: Hunger.

So each year on the second Saturday of May, letter carriers across the country collect non-perishable food donations from our customers. These donations go directly to local food pantries; (BROC -- Community Action in Southwestern Vt., 332 Orchard Rd.; Kitchen Cupboard, 800 Gage St.; and Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Church, 238 Main St.) who need our help.

Last year we collected over 74 million pounds of food nationally, feeding an estimated 30 million people. Over the course of its 21-year history, the drive has collected well over one billion pounds of food, thanks to a postal service universal delivery network that spans the entire nation, including Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The need for food donations is great. Currently, 49 million Americans -- 1 in 6 -- are unsure where their next meal is coming from. Sixteen million are children who feel hunger's impact on their overall health and ability to perform in school. Nearly five million seniors over age 60 are food insecure, with many who live on fixed incomes often too embarrassed to ask for help.

Our food drive's timing is crucial. Food banks and pantries often receive the majority of their donations during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons. By springtime, many pantries are depleted, entering the summer low on supplies at a time when many school breakfast and lunch programs are not available to children in need.

Participating in this year's Letter Carrier Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is simple. Just leave a non-perishable food donation in a bag by your mailbox on Saturday, May 10, and your letter carrier will do the rest. Donated items may include canned fruit, vegetables, soup, tuna, peanut butter, pasta and other staples. There is also a need for personal care products like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and laundry detergent. I invite you to join in America's great day of giving and help us in our fight to end hunger.

MARTIN MOSHER, letter carrier

Bennington