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Letter carriers help collect tons of food during annual "Stamp Out Hunger" drive

You can find letters, postcards and manila envelopes in Scott VanDerven's hands six days a week. But one Saturday a year, the Wisconsin letter carriers president adds some extra items -- and weight -- to his mail truck.

\"Looking for that magical 1-million pound mark,\" VanDerven told CBS-58 while working his downtown Milwaukee route.

Potentially one million pounds of canned goods, mac and cheese and cereal VanDerven and mail carriers across Milwaukee hope to gather during Saturday's \"Stamp out Hunger\" food drive.

\"The logistics are something you need to plan for, but look, it's a one-day thing and we're doing it for all the right reasons,\" VanDerven said.

The drive started 23 years ago, asking people to put out bags of non-perishable food out for letter carriers to pick up.

\"I usually ask for something they would feed their own family,\" VanDerven said. \"If the shoe were on the other foot, what would you like to see?\"

Out in West Allis, letter carrier Joan Mech used her trusty push-cart to carry all the food. Mech heard plenty of \"thank you's\" from her postal customers.

The bags of food fill up carrier's trucks quickly and can add an additional stop or two in between routes. The Milwaukee-area food ends up at the Hunger Task Force headquarters on Hawley Court. Volunteers unload, sort and get the food ready to ship to local pantries.

\"Anyone donating has the pleasure of knowing the food is going to one of their neighbors, someone that is in need,\" Hunger Task Force Executive Director Sherrie Tussler said. \"My dad was a letter carrier, so I know how hard he worked and I know what it means to add a ton, literally, of food that he has to pick up.\"

It's an additional load Scott VanDerven doesn't mind carrying.

\"When we can do something like that to really help them out or to allow our patrons to help other neighbors that they may not even know, it's just a great feeling,\" VanDerven said.

Letter carriers and the Hunger Task Force collected more than 600,000 pounds of food during the drive in 2014. Within ten days the food will make it from the task force's warehouse to pantries and onto family tables.

If you missed out on donating Saturday, VanDerven tells CBS-58 News carriers will still pick up food left by your mailbox Monday.

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