EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
From left: Owen Calhoun, Carter Berger, William Bailey and Buddy Beyer, collect food from neighborhoods Saturday in Menominee for the U.S. Postal Service’s Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.
EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard

From left: Owen Calhoun, Carter Berger, William Bailey and Buddy Beyer, collect food from neighborhoods Saturday in Menominee for the U.S. Postal Service’s Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.

MENOMINEE — Members and coaches of the Menominee High School baseball team took off around town in uniform collecting food for the annual Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive Saturday morning. The team gathered at Resurrection Catholic Parish, the location of Menominee’s St. Vincent de Paul food pantry, and split off into smaller groups to collect food from people’s houses.

Jack Nicholas, a player on Menominee High School’s 1964 baseball team and manager of the pantry, said the nationwide food drive is sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers. “We’re involved because we (the St. Vinnie’s food pantry) are the recipient of the food that they collect,” he said.

“Over the years we’ve assisted the post office workers. Their vehicles don’t have space to deliver the mail and collect all that food at the same time, so it’s much more efficient to have drivers and young folks to go out and pick up the bulk of the food,” he said.

According to Nicholas, the letter carriers will pick up whatever the volunteers miss, “and there’s a fair amount of that, but it’s much more manageable that way,” he said.

Nicholas said the Knights of Columbus have provided at least 10 drivers each year to drive volunteers around town to pick up the food. In the last few years, a wide variety of volunteers have stepped up to ride with the Knights and collect the food. “In the past that has been Boy Scouts, John Paul II Academy students, Resurrection’s youth group; one year it was a different Menominee High School club, and this year, it’s the baseball team. In past years, it’s been difficult to find enough young people to do the running, so we are very grateful to the baseball team for their efforts,” Nicholas said.

With the baseball team entering its second year, head coach John Beyer thought it would be the perfect way for the team to interact with the community. “The team is funded by the community, and it’s important for them to give back to the community. It’s a two-way street; the community supports them, so they’re supporting the community. That’s why they’re here, and they want to be here,” he said.

“There’s people in need of food and it’s just nice to be able to give back,” team member Austin Malke said.

In addition to the baseball players and drivers from the Knights, Nicholas said there were about 18 people who came to Resurrection after all of the food was delivered to sort it and store it in the pantry. In past years, the youth group would assist in the sorting process.

Nicholas said that the post office delivers roughly 5,000 bags for the drive. They don’t measure the donations by the bags they pick up, but by weight. “We will take in the vicinity of 7,000 pounds of food during the drive. We think that probably half of the bags that are delivered are filled and put out, so there’s a very high rate of return,” he said.

Once all the food was gathered, he said it would last the pantry about 10 weeks. All of the food gathered in Menominee’s drive went to the pantry at Resurrection, since it’s the only one in Menominee. “It’s about a quarter to a third of the amount of food that we will take in during the course of the year, and then we have to buy food on occasion to make up the difference,” he said.

This year, Nicholas’ expectations were exceeded: The baseball team collected more than 8,000 pounds of food. He also said that, if the team missed anyone’s bags from within the city limits or the rural routes they were on, people can bring their bags to another local food pantry or call St. Vincent de Paul in Marinette or Menominee to arrange for it to be picked up.