That first year, Robinson and his friends enlisted a small core of people to help. The core has grown over time, Robinson said, because people who get involved stay involved and recruit others to join.
An example is Tina Sheley. She and her longtime boyfriend, Mike Barlass, joined the drive in its second year. Now she’s the drive’s head coordinator.
“I got involved in the drive after meeting Pete and realizing that something so simple could be done to help a child of any age escape hunger,” Sheley said. “I spend my days in schools seeing too many kids in need, right in my own community. It is my responsibility to help them, to do what I can.”
Those involved say one of the reasons the drive works is its simplicity. It’s easy to help.
“I can buy a jar of peanut butter and jelly. That is something many people can do,” Sheley said. “A person of any age can grasp the concept of the drive and feel a sense of accomplishment pitching in to contribute to our mission.”
And do they ever pitch in. Not content to wait for the “official” start of the 2013 drive, people have already brought jars in, Robinson said. One volunteer collected 122 jars outside Walmart last weekend. A church in Newfane handed over 54 jars. And the U.S. District Court in Buffalo called Robinson to say they had a bin full.
Now that the drive is in full swing, it will go at fever pitch until the official end, Dec. 7.
“These calls are going to start coming in like crazy now,” Robinson said.
The calls are not just from local folks looking to give or receive, either. Robinson and his team have fielded inquiries from Texas, Colorado, Georgia and sunny Florida, all looking for information about the drive that’s captured hearts and attention on the Internet.