PB&J drive seeks boost

Contributed photoOrganizers of the annual PB&J drive are looking to stretch this year's supply by holding a special drive on Saturday and Aug. 15 at Second Presbyterian Church in Lockport.

With supplies running low, organizers of the annual Peanut Butter & Jelly drive in Lockport are holding a pair of early collection events at noon on Saturday and Aug. 15 at Second Presbyterian Church, 71 Van Buren St.

Pete Robinson, one of the founders of the drive, said the group's supply of jelly is particularly low.

“COVID happened,” he explained. “What we would normally have to distribute in a year, we’ve gone through here in August. We’re getting ready to fall short, because our supply, especially our jelly (is running out). … How can I say it? It’s such a good program that it worked too well. …This year is unique as it had a worldwide pandemic, and people need what we have, and we’ve increased our output and now we’ve just about run out of jelly.”

Donations of peanut butter and Fluff are also welcome.

The annual PB&J drive typically takes place from November to December and in the 11 years of its existence, it has never disappointed the pantries that it awards its proceeds to. The 100% volunteer-driven effort handles literally thousands of jars — and no cash — every year. After the drive, the group breaks the donations into shipments throughout the year and brings it to where it's most needed.

Speaking of the Saturday collection events, Robinson said he knows the community will come through for them, even though it’s not a regular drive. He said Facebook has been a great help in spreading the word.

“It’s sort of an off-the-cuffs kind of thing,” he said. “We’ll set up for a couple of Saturdays. We’ll be posting that we’ll take them (on Facebook). I’ll be at the church to collect, right around noon and be there for about an hour. If people want to, come over and drop off peanut butter and jelly. If they can’t make those times, they can inbox me on Facebook Messenger, that’d be great.”

The origins of the food drive are very anecdotal.

“We thought we’d do a small food drive," Robinson said of a meeting at his church, "and one of the ladies spoke up, ‘I heard on the local radio station that there’s a shortage on peanut butter.’ I said, ‘That’d be great, why don’t we start a peanut butter drive?’ ”

“‘Another lady spoke up and said, ‘If we’ve got peanut butter, we should have jelly, too.’ I said, ‘That’s crazy enough to work!’”

So it began.

“It’s simple, and that’s it, it’s simple,” Robinson said. “We’re not asking for the world here. We’re not asking for the black beans hiding in the back of the cupboard. We’re just asking for peanut butter and jelly, because in the wintertime or when the power goes out, or when a global pandemic strikes, this stuff really works. It feeds your family and it give you enough nutrition to get through the next day.”

More information can be found at Peanut Butter and Jelly (Lockport HQ) on Facebook.

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