May 8, 2012

A drive to fight hunger

by Dave Kitchell
Local Columnist

— Every spring about this time, one of the miracles of nature is visible in the skies, and we should learn something from it.

As flock after flock of birds migrates north, there is the unmistakable vision of a V-formation that looks something like a B-52 without a fuselage.

The Rev. Woody Slade, who has pastored churches in both Rochester and Flora, has referred to this phenomenon over the years as something truly remarkable. It’s remarkable because when the bird leading the flock tires and can’t keep up the pace, that bird drops back and another bird takes the lead so the formation can stay on track.

If only it were that easy with people. If only one person could retire one day and a fresh person could take the job the next day fully trained and full of fresh ideas. If only for every great world leader we lost, another was born to take his or her place that same day.

On a smaller scale, it can work that way. It does every year on the second Saturday in May thanks to something we take for granted six days a week: They bring our mail to our doorstep or mailbox.

The annual letter carriers food drive in Logansport and other communities is truly one of the marvels of genuine volunteers with huge hearts. They donate canned goods for something other than a tax write-off for themselves. They do it to help their neighbors across town, around the corner or maybe even next door.

They’re not doing it for recognition. So why do it at all?

I’d hazard a guess that it’s because there are still people who grew up during the Depression and learned to appreciate every meal down to the last bread crumb and sip. I have to think there are people who know what it means to live on a budget, and how hard that it is when the debts exceed income, or when a parent has abandoned another parent with a child.

There are those on fixed incomes who know there are others having a difficult time living on one income when they once lived on two. And there are people — probably plenty of them thankfully — who simply give food to the drive because they think it truly benefits people who need it right here in their own county.

It’s amazing to think how many extra tons the letter carriers and postal workers working right here will put upon their shoulders to give to a drive that continues to exist, even in an era when there is so much emphasis on reducing calories in soft drinks and preventing obese teenagers.

We’ve become more health conscious, but have we become hunger conscious? On days like Saturday, I have to say yes. They may not be familiar with a fact we may not be too proud to mention in this country — one out of every five children grows up hungry. Most children I know can’t go out and get a job.

Like many baby boomers, I can remember a time every fall where many of my Sunday school classmates and I would dress up in our Halloween costumes to go door-to-door after school to collect donations for the United Nations International Children’s Fund, known as UNICEF. But days like Saturday are reserved for the children not only in our country, but in our own children’s school.

Many of them may come from households where parents are too proud to accept food stamps and have either lost jobs or are working two or more jobs to make ends meet.

I can’t say that Americans invented the concept of being neighborly, but I can say that when they truly get behind a cause like this one, nobody can stop them.

So this week, when you’re coming home from the grocery, set aside a can of vegetables or soup on your counter for someone else. When you go out to get your mail on Friday, put it your box or your mail chute.

And if your letter carrier happens to be a few minutes later than normal on Saturday, don’t grumble. Just smile. That will mean somebody else on your block read the same column you did, and they’re doing exactly what you are because they feel the same way you do about an issue that matters in all the Logansports and Cass Counties of the world.

• Dave Kitchell is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached through the newspaper at