CORVALLIS - Donations by employees of Oregon State University to the State Employees' Food Drive went from a healthy stream in past years to a torrent of donations in 1996.

OSU employees gave the equivalent of 74 tons, or 148,000 pounds, of food in money, raffle tickets and groceries. The university's usual contribution to the drive weighs in at about 30 tons.

"We at Food Share are amazed, gratified and flabbergasted at the generosity of the employees of OSU," wrote Michael T. Gibson, director of Linn Benton Food Share.

Overall, state employees in Oregon donated $234,966 and 417,164 pounds of food, for a total donation equivalent to nearly 914 tons. (Donors are credited six pounds of food for every dollar donated).

OSU was the only institution in the Oregon State System of Higher Education that involved the entire university in the food drive this year, said Chris Roethlin, a coordinator for the state drive.

Overall, OSU finished fourth in total donations among the 10 participating state agencies in the over-1,000 employee category.

Oregon State Police "won" in that division, with fewer donations, because their per-employee donation was so high - the equivalent of 123 pounds per employee. The Department of Corrections and Adult came in second; Family Services, third. Both donated the equivalent of more than 90 pounds per employee each.

The top contributing unit on at OSU was the College of Forestry, which waged a year-long campaign to raise money and food for the drive.

The OSU drive was headed by Gale Hazel.

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Gale Hazel, 541-737-0724