RCS Pinellas was the recipient of a $10,000 donation from the National Letter Carriers Association and CVS Health. The donation was made in honor of Clearwater letter carrier Brian Mueller, who died in May.
CLEARWATER – For more than 13 years, Brian Mueller braved rain, heat and gloom of night to deliver mail along his route in Clearwater.
And every year, Mueller stepped beyond his role as letter carrier to spearhead local organizational efforts for the annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive.
A national campaign, the Stamp Out Hunger food drive raises millions of pounds of food each year when local letter carriers pick up donations along their routes on the second Saturday in May.
“Brian was our lead person at our Cleveland Street office,” said Florida State Association of Letter Carriers president Al Friedman. “He encouraged all the carriers and got everything organized and coordinated with all the local agencies.”
And that’s exactly what Mueller was doing on May 13, said Friedman. Mueller had stayed late after his shift that day to help organize all of the day’s donations and load them onto trucks to be delivered to local food banks, which in turn serve thousands of food insecure families in Pinellas County.
Friedman said it’s something Mueller did every year.
But this year was different.
On his way home that night, Mueller’s motorcycle collided with a car. He did not survive the accident. The Palm Harbor resident was just 42 years old and left behind a wife and three children.
“You know, I look back and think that maybe, if he hadn’t stayed late that day, maybe none of this would have happened,” Friedman said. “But Brian was a dedicated guy. He stayed until the job was finished.”
Honoring his dedication
A few weeks later, Friedman, who also serves as the Southeast coordinator for the postal service’s annual food drive, said he was approached by CVS Health about selecting a local food bank to be the recipient of a $10,000 donation.
“They wanted me to pick a food bank that was in need, but one that had really made a difference in the community,” Friedman said. “It was a no-brainer for me to select RCS Pinellas.”
RCS Pinellas is a nonprofit organization working to feed the hungry, help families facing homelessness and empower survivors of domestic violence. RCS has been in the area for more than 50 years and serves its mission through its food bank, Grace House, The Haven of RCS and the RCS thrift store.
Friedman said once he decided on RCS, he was ready to move forward with the donation, with one caveat – he wanted it to be given in honor of Mueller – a request CVS was happy to honor, he said.
A legacy of generosity
Earlier this week, in front of the Cleveland Street Post Office in Clearwater, Friedman, along with Mueller’s former colleagues and his family, presented RCS president and CEO Kirk Smith with a check for $10,000.
“We are humbled and honored to accept this gift,” Smith said following the presentation. “I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Mueller, but RCS is dedicated to continuing his legacy in the community.”
Smith said this is the first time RCS has been the recipient of a cash donation from the letter carriers’ association and said he plans to use it to further support the nonprofit’s mission, which serves more than 115,000 people each year.
Next year’s annual RCS food drive will also be renamed in honor of Mueller, Smith said.
“We are saddened by the loss of Brian,” Smith said, adding that the donation will help sustain families in Pinellas County throughout the year. “The need is incredible.”