For Karissa Thompson, president of the Downtown Puyallup Rotary service club, a recent peanut butter drive for the Puyallup Food Bank hit close to home.
While a jar of peanut butter may seem like a staple for most pantries, for Thompson, the high protein spread takes on more meaning than just another item the Puyallup Food Bank was in need of.
Thompson’s niece lived off of peanut butter while her parents were living in a tent in Nevada. Thompson’s niece now lives with her, and is using her niece’s story as inspiration to take action in insuring local kids remain nourished as summer is drawing to a close.
Local service clubs including South Hill and Downtown Rotary clubs, Kiwanis, the Sunrise Kiwanis, the Daffodil Valley Kiwanis, the Puyallup Kiwanis, the Lions, and the Masons have come together to embark on monthly service projects for the Puyallup community.
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“(My niece’s) story pushed for that purpose,” Thompson said.
Ironically, before the mutual decision was made that the service clubs of Puyallup would join together for their first monthly joint service project of collecting donated jars of peanut butter, Shanna Peterson, executive director of the Puyallup Food Bank, was planning to approach several of the clubs to hold a peanut butter drive in the food bank’s honor.
With every bag of food that leaves the food bank destined for hungry families and individuals, Peterson and her volunteers include a jar of peanut butter.
“(The clubs) really surprised us,” Peterson said. “It’s a huge burden lifted off of us. It frees us up from having to find peanut butter at a free or reduced price.”
Now that the service clubs are well underway with the drive, Peterson said will provide a big lift to the food bank.
Much like Thompson’s niece, Peterson says that many local hungry kids can survive on peanut butter alone. It doesn’t require heat or knives, all it takes is dipping a finger in the jar.
As of Friday, Puyallup Kiwanis had collected 576 jars of peanut butter. South Hill Rotary had 398 jars. Collectively, according to Thompson, the last count of peanut butter jars was 1,200.
The idea behind the peanut butter drive and the monthly service projects the services clubs are hosting is to provide an easy way for people to get involved in their local community.
“It’s really good conscious leadership from our service clubs,” said Puyallup Kiwanis member Lauren Adler. “Puyallup does mean generous people, and this is providing testament to that meaning.”