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In addition to dropping off and picking up mail, mailman Bob Prine collected donated food on his Security route for the "Stamp Out Hunger" drive for the Care and Share food bank. Photo by BRYAN OLLER, THE GAZETTE

Santa Claus gets cookies and cocoa. Bob Prine gets Spam and canned peas.

And the more the merrier.

On Saturday, Prine, a letter carrier, picked up food donations from customers on his Security route for the U.S. Postal Service's “Stamp Out Hunger” drive.

He collected more than a dozen mail tubs of goods to unload at the Security post office after his shift. The collection for Care and Share, a food bank serving Southern Colorado, added extra time to his day, but he didn’t mind.

“I know it is going to a worthy cause,” Prine said. “Especially the kids. With summer coming, they can’t count on school meals.”

After 25 years on this route, Prine, 66, knows the people whose boxes he fills through rain, snow and hail with bills, cards and junk mail. In return, they fill his truck with groceries one Saturday a year.

“They are pretty generous. They give a pretty good amount,” Prine said. “All we are is just the middle man.”

He lives in this neighborhood of 1960s ranch homes and knows some people have had to move because of the economy.

Many who remain are longtimers, like John Stepisnik, a retired heating and air-conditioning worker.

Stepisnik left the mailman a grocery sack stuffed with crackers and canned soups. “You do what you can. I can’t give a lot, but I can give a little,” he said.

Jim Kerbs put a sack of food by the curb before heading to the market to replenish his own pantry.

“It’s easy. You can set it out and go about your day,” Kerbs said. “I left corn and beans, stuff that I normally eat but can do without. Life has been good to me and I try to pass it along.”

Postal service spokesman Ron Perry said last year carriers in the Pikes Peak region collected 135,000 pounds of food. Statewide, 890,000 pounds were collected.

Since 1993, carriers have collected 1 billion pounds nationwide.

Money also is welcome. Perry said every $1 donated will purchase 10 pounds of food at bulk rate.

In case you missed Saturday’s donation, carriers will pick up food on Monday.

Or you can leave an envelope with a check. No stamp necessary.

Contact the writer at 636-0253.

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