Mary Vincent admits her act of generosity was a simple, yet necessary gesture.
When this Carson City resident forgot to place a box of food out by her mailbox Saturday morning, Vincent did the next best thing.
She carted a plastic bag full of peanut butter, tuna, canned salmon and vegetables to the lobby of the Roop Street post office in Carson.
The food will go further in someone else's pantry than in hers, she said.
"It makes me feel like somebody might be able to have a full stomach," she said. "I just feel like it's a basic need - to be able to eat, to do anything."
Vincent's donation ended up in one of dozens of bright-orange plastic containers, sorted by volunteers and mail carriers during the annual Letter Carriers Food Drive on Saturday.
The carts full of soups, cereal, paper plates, pancake mixes, lasagna - even a few bags of marshmallows - will help at least two organizations provide nourishment for those in need this year.
"I do this every year," said Anita McComb, also a Carson resident, who brought a bag of canned soups, canned tomatoes, pears and tuna to the post office. "I do it because I know there are people less fortunate."
On Saturday, 51 letter carriers in the Carson and Dayton areas were dispatched to deliver the mail and pick up food packages. Much of the food ended up at the Roop Street post office, where volunteers from the Carson Friends in Service Helping center sorted and loaded the donated goods into waiting delivery trucks.
The food also helps the Advocates to End Domestic Violence group.
Letter carriers collected 39,810 pounds of food this year.
Jeff Fast, executive director of FISH, said he expects the food collected Saturday to help provide as many as half of the meals the nonprofit assistance group serves this year.
In 2007, Fast said, the nonprofit served 100,000 meals. The letter carriers' drive, Fast said, helps provide food during the summer.
Fast and letter carrier Shawn Wells were hopeful that this year's economic slowdown wouldn't produce a similar slowdown in donations.
"I think people are digging down deeper this year," Wells said.
Fast was equally optimistic.
"The wonderful thing about Carson City is that this town never coasts," he said. "Somebody gives us food every day."
Fast's nonprofit served 7,000 families in Carson, Douglas, Storey and Lyon counties in 2007 by providing food, clothing or shelter assistance.
During slow economic times, Fast said he usually sees increased sales at the group's thrift store, which accounts for as much as 60 percent of FISH's budget. That hasn't happened yet, he said.
Vincent, who makes it a practice to donate to organizations that help the less-fortunate, said she could certainly do with less, so others might have a little more.
"If I didn't buy another thing in my house, I could live for two months," she said. "I love to share."
• Contact City Editor David Mirhadi at email@example.com or 881-1261.