It’s time to round up the jars of peanut butter and jelly, and for a good cause.
The Rotary Club and Hinesville Downtown Development Authority’s annual Peanut Butter and Jelly drive is underway, collecting jars of the stuff to deliver to the Manna House. The drive is in its ninth year, and organizers have set ambitious goals.
The drive needs to collect 2,200 jars to reach 20,000 since its inception in 2015. But they’re hoping to top that.
“We’ve really pushed our goal to 7,200 jars to reach 25,000 total,” said Michelle Ricketson of the Rotary Club. “It’s a stretch goal, but we have so many community partners.”
So many Liberty County students are on free or reduced lunch, more than two-thirds, Ricketson said.
“Those numbers really spike in the summer,” she added.
So the Peanut Butter and Jelly Drive was born out of that necessity. And as the collection grew, Manna House shared it with more people.
“It started as a city-wide thing,” Ricketson said. “Now it’s county-wide.”
The drive helps young and old now — the collection also helps the participants in the summer reading program, those at the senior citizens center and reaches the homeless prevention program.
“Because the collection has been so bountiful, we’ve been able to reach out to every church in Liberty County that has a food pantry,” Ricketson said. “This food drive reaches all demographics, all ages an all parts of the county. We’re super, super excited.”
Local realtors and financial institutions have dropoff sites at their offices — and are engaging in friendly competition with each other — and there is a dropoff counter inside Hinesville City Hall.
Drive organizers will be out and about, too. They will be at local grocery stores May 15 for four hours with specially- marked vehicles asking people to “Jam This Vehicle with PB& J.”
There also are sponsorships for the drive and Ricketson pointed out one veteran, Ricky Hearn, who already has amassed more than $4,000 in sponsorships.
The drive caps off with an event June 1 from 3-7 p.m. during Hinesville’s weekly farmer’s market at Bradwell Park.
“It’s really fun when they bring the collections to the farmer’s market on June 1,” Ricketson said.
Once the collections are delivered to the Manna House, other volunteer groups, including the mentees of 11 Black Men, will sort through them.
While the size of the jars has no restrictions, the jelly must be purchased from a store. No homemade jellies, jams, preserves or marmalades are allowed.
The goal is help feed individuals and families in the community throughout the summer and perhaps all the way to Christmas, Ricketson said.
“It has a lasting impact in our community,” she said.
The drive also shows the how big the hearts of people in Hinesville and Liberty County are.
“Whether is one or two jars or 200, it’s about the community coming together,” Ricketson said.
You can follow the drive at the hashtag #fine9.