The La Verne post office on White Avenue was a hub of activity this past Saturday. City Councilman Robert Rodriguez, who is also mayor pro tem, Robin Carder, another city council member, and City Planner Hal Henderson were there.
Chris Roberts of Glendora, the longtime radio voice of UCLA football and basketball, was also there. Roberts’ father, uncle and grandfather were all postal workers.
The occasion was the culmination of last week’s National Association of Letter Carriers’ 20th annual “Stamp Out Hunger” national food drive. If you donated, you’ll be glad to know your donations went to good use.
The donated items that were picked up by letter carriers in La Verne and Claremont were brought in to the La Verne post office and passed along to two area food banks, Sowing Seeds for Life (SSFL) and People for People.
Vicki Brown, the CEO of the La Verne-based SSFL, said her organization received about 10,500 pounds of food and other non-perishable items from the La Verne post office, and another 1,500 pounds from the Pomona post office. Also, the Faith Lutheran Church of San Dimas donated 300 pounds of food items and 300 pounds of clothing.
A small army of volunteers, including, from left, Linda Mazuca, Greg DeSmet, Robin Carder, Robert Rodriguez, Tony Mazuca, Jorge Montero and Chris Roberts, were on the front lines organizing the successful food drive.
Some of those donations were to be distributed to needy people at the bi-monthly SSFL food giveaway Wednesday at the DPI Labs parking lot at 1350 Arrow Highway in La Verne. SSFL has food giveaways the first and third Wednesday of every month, providing food and other commodities to some 6,000 people per month.
What is not distributed at this week’s SSFL giveaway will be stored for future distribution. The SSFL giveaways are held at DPI Labs because Brown is the CEO of that aerospace company.
The activity at the La Verne post office Saturday included letter carriers and volunteers placing goods into big boxes, which were placed on pallets, weighed and loaded onto bobtail trucks. A total of 26,500 pounds of food was brought in, according to Tony Mazuca, the head steward of the local chapter of the letter carriers’ union.
SSFL had two Penske rental trucks and about a dozen volunteers, including a group from the San Dimas Faith Lutheran Church, at the La Verne post office. The SSFL volunteers loaded up its 10,500 pounds of food, with the rest going to People for People.
Henderson was responsible for participation by Faith Lutheran Church group.
Volunteers Hal Henderson and friends from the Faith Lutheran Church of San Dimas weren’t sitting at the loading docks, they were working.
After the loaded trucks arrived at the DPI, SSFL volunteers headed by Jim Anderson, laboriously organized the donations into various categories, such as soups, vegetables, cereals and so forth.
The SSFL volunteers, besides Anderson, included Greg DeSmet, Melody Leader, Greg Tatsch and Jorge Montero.This is the third year SSFL has been a beneficiary of the letter carriers’ food drive.
“There was less food in weight than last year,” Brown said, “but the quality was much better this year. I think people are learning what we can use. We have to throw out anything that is outdated.”
Mazuca, the union steward, said, “I think we’ve done a good job of letting our customers know what to donate and what not to donate. For example, canned goods are ideal. But dairy products or anything that can spoil, are not.”
As a reward to the letter carries and volunteers, Mazuca and his wife Linda put on one of their traditional barbecues, serving hamburgers and hot dogs with all the trimmings, as well as soft drinks. And, as in the past, they offered fried cactus, which they harvest from their own garden.
“It not only tastes good, it is good for you,” Mazuca said.
Brown summed up the day this way: “You’ve got so many people — the letter carriers, all their customers and all the volunteers – working for a common good. It shows how much people care about helping the less fortunate. It’s really amazing.”
And it was amazing that Rodriguez and Carder took time out of their busy schedules to take part. But it figures. They’re both community minded.
Rodriguez will be honored Sunday by the La Verne Chamber of Commerce for his 30 years of service. The event will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Hilllcrest Meeting House at 2705 Mt. View Drive. Tickets are priced at $30, with $15 going to the Veterans Memorial Fund.
With people like Rodriguez, Brown and others mentioned in this story, is it any wonder that La Verne is considered such a great city?