Story and Photo by Alice Gerard
At the annual Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, held Saturday, David Conboy of the Grand Island Neighbors Foundation announced the organization was unveiling its new logo.
“One of the things that is different is that, after 50 years with our original logo that was developed by those who founded the organization, we’ve updated the logo,” he said. “What we’ve tried to do is to update it and refresh it and make it more inclusive. The old logo was great, but it looked like two businessmen shaking hands. We’ve tried to make it more inclusive in terms of the size and shape and the way the hands were depicted.
“It could be any nationality, male or female, because we’re neighbors helping neighbors, and that comes in all different colors, shapes and sizes. We’re hopeful that it will take us through the next 50-plus years and serve us well. The theme that we’ve put onto our logo is neighbors helping neighbors. That’s what it’s all about. At any given time, any one of us might find ourselves on one side of that equation of being someone who’s helping a neighbor, or even in need at some point, so we recognize that we all pull together.”
“This is the 30th annual event,” he added. “The last two years were paused, due to COVID, so everybody is excited to get that started. Chris Amato from the post office has been wonderful in terms of coordinating and arranging things. I can’t say enough about everyone. The letter carriers, for what they do every day. But, certainly today, in bringing the food to the pantry.”
Conboy said the need for food has changed over the past few years: “We’ve seen an increase in need, as people struggle with the economy and jobs and the whole COVID situation. We’ve definitely seen an uptick in requests for food. Fortunately, we’ve also seen an uptick in the generosity of Grand Island neighbors, particularly with financial donations.”
On May 14, a group of volunteers from several organizations, including Grand Island High School, the Kiwanis Club, and the post office, was in the basement of St. Stephen’s old church, which houses the Neighbors Foundation pantry, to sort through and organize donations.
“This is a great event. We've got volunteers from the high school, from the Kiwanis Club, from our organization, and so, this is a great opportunity for us to replenish our shelves that were bare. This will put us into a good position until the next collection,” Conboy said.
Three of the volunteers were seniors from Grand Island High School who were fulfilling volunteer hours required by the school. Michael Greer, a member of Grand Island High School’s varsity hockey team, explained, “We’ve been sorting the cans by years and putting them in the pantry. We’ve been sorting out the expired goods. It’s just a good way to help out the community.”
Joe Geyer, also a member of the school’s varsity hockey team, said he felt good about organizing the food: “It’s a good cause for the kids.”
Ethan Lysarz, a snowboarder, added, “We’re organizing canned foods and other nonperishable items to help out the community. It means something.”
Steve Kopf, president of Grand Island’s Kiwanis Club, talked about the club’s involvement with the food drive.
“This is great. I’m happy that we’re able to help out,” he said. “Coming together to help families in need and working with the Neighbors Foundation is going to be a good partnership that we’re looking forward to getting into. It’s a really great event for everyone to come together on Grand Island, pitch in, and give donations to the people in need.”
Kopf added that Grand Island’s Kiwanis Club is always looking for new members.
“We have a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/gikiwanis),” he said. “We also post things on the Isledegrande website. We’ll post our meeting times in there, as well. My contact information is up there so they can reach out there.”
The supervisor at the Grand Island Post Office, who identified himself as Jeff, said, “We’re going around right now, collecting what we can that is out currently, and everything from our carriers out there right now to bring on back here and help out the people of Grand Island. It’s giving back. We’re out there every single day. We see a lot of the community. Sometimes, you don’t see how everyone is. It’s really needed throughout the community to help out and give back a little bit, so being able to provide that – even if it’s just today – is huge. It helps out a ton.
“In the past couple of years, COVID has put a damper on (the Stamp Out Hunger food drive). It’s good to be back and finally doing this again. I know that a lot of our letter carriers were very eager to get out there and start helping collect today.
“I just want to give a thanks to all our carriers and all of the volunteers here that are helping with this. It’s great seeing this come together every single year, and I’d like to see it go forward without any interruptions. I just want to give a thanks to everyone out there doing the hard work.”
Part of the hard work is sorting through the donated food and removing all of the expired food.
When asked what happens to expired food, Conboy said, “The food that was expired is sent to another pantry off the Island that is able to accept the expired food. We want to make sure that we sort through the food and that what we are offering here is not expired and is healthy.”
Conboy also asked to express gratitude to the St. Stephen community for hosting the Neighbors Foundation.
“St. Stephen’s has been wonderful,” he said. “They’ve done various food drives to collect food, and they give us space in the old church basement, so we’re very thankful for the St. Stephen’s community. All of the churches and organizations on the Island step up and help out the Neighbors Foundation, so we appreciate them focusing on us when they are donating food and money; and we just ask people to continue doing that and also keep in mind that every dollar that is provided to the Neighbors Foundation goes directly into helping our neighbors. None of the board members are paid or compensated in any way. We’re all volunteers and are always looking for more folks to help out and ensure the future of the Neighbors Foundation.”