NORTH ADAMS -- The Berkshire County Letter Carriers' Branch No. 286 is prepared for its annual food drive, taking place this Saturday.
"We're very excited about the food drive," North Adams Postmaster Joan Bates said. "It's coming at a time of year when a lot of food pantries are getting low on reserves. All of their holiday donations are just about gone. This time of year is good especially because kids are almost out of school."
The "Stamp Out Hunger" food drive, in its 22nd year, will collect donations from residents in Adams, North Adams and Williamstown to benefit local food pantries.
Al Nelson, of the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative, said a group of volunteers will sort through the food collected in North Adams on Saturday in a space donated by Scarafoni Associates at 107 Main St.
"It takes about a week to sort out all of the food," Nelson said. "Last year we had about 60 volunteers to help unload the trucks. We hope we get 80 this year. People are free to come help."
About 21,000 pounds of food was collected in last year's food drive, Nelson said, and almost 12,000 pounds was collected in North Adams alone.
Residents are urged to donate staple foods such as beans, cereal, peanut butter, pasta products, and canned goods such as fruit, vegetables, spaghetti sauce and soup. Paper and personal hygiene products are also accepted.
To donate, residents can leave a sturdy bag of goods next to their door, mailbox or business before their regular mail delivery, Bates said.
"Carriers were out this week delivering bags for people to leave donations at their mailbox," Bates said.
Donations will also be accepted at local post offices during the week, she said.
"If we don't get your food [Saturday] or we miss it ... we always collect after, and we'll get it to its destination," Bates said.
Bates reminded residents to check the expiration dates before donating.
Food collected in North Adams will be donated to the Friendship Center Food Pantry, the Salvation Army, the Berkshire Food Pantry and the Dream Center, Nelson said. Food collected in Adams will go to the Louison House, and food collected in Williamstown will go to St. Patrick's Food Pantry, he said.
"It brings the community together in meeting the needs of a good amount of people," Nelson said. The Friendship Center alone serves approximately 150 families a week, he explained, and is greatly assisted by the drive.
To reach Edward Damon, email