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Record amount of food raised in letter carrier drive

Albert Lea rural and city letter carriers collected a record-setting 19,800 pounds of food Saturday for a food drive that will benefit local residents.

The amount surpassed the average amount of pounds collected in the drive during a typical year — 13,000 to 14,000 — said food drive coordinator Scott Pirsig. The previous Albert Lea record was 16,709 pounds, raised in 2009.

Half of the food collected was donated to the Salvation Army, while the other half was donated to the Ecumenical Food Pantry at First Presbyterian Church. A 50-pound bag was donated to St. Theodore Catholic Church.

“All of the food stays in Albert Lea,” Pirsig said.

Albert Lea letter carriers bested Austin letter carriers in a friendly competition — Austin collected 19,050 pounds, which was a record, Pirsig said.

“We still eked out a victory on them,” he said.

Letter carriers from both towns share ideas for the drive and help each other beforehand.

The food drive, started by the National Association of Letter Carriers, began in Albert Lea 23 years ago. Letter carriers raised 1,588 pounds the first year — that number jumped to 8,000 pounds in 1996.

Food was collected at mailboxes Saturday during the normal mail delivery. Volunteers from First Presbyterian Church and the Salvation Army assisted letter carriers by helping the letter carriers bring the food back to the post office before the food was weighed, sorted and loaded into vehicles and transported to the food shelves.

“It’s a real family thing, too,” Pirsig said.

“Albert Lea collects a lot for the size of the town, and that is a reflection of the residents caring for each other.”

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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