The 2021 Peanut Butter and Jelly Drive wraps up Friday

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(WIVB) — For a dozen years, a group of dedicated volunteers based in Lockport have been helping to “spread the love” in the WNY community by collecting jars of peanut butter and jelly for local food pantries.

The shelf-stable staple is a favorite for kids, especially during the summer months when school is out – and the drive distributes jars to food pantries around the area all year round.

Friday is the final collection day for the 2021 drive.

Pete Robinson, CEO of the drive’s parent non-profit, A Hand Up Inc., says that the pandemic continues to drive need in the WNY area.

“You still have people who are laid off, people who aren’t working for whatever reason,” Robinson explained. “Chances are, if they’re from Western New York, they probably donated when times were good, and when times are bad, we’re coming through for them as well.”

The Buffalo Dream Center, 286 Lafayette Ave. in Buffalo, is one of the local organizations that receive donations of peanut butter, jelly, and marshmallow fluff from the drive.

The center’s pastor, Pastor Eric Johns, says the jars are important for the families they help.

“Peanut butter is a great source of protein, and peanut butter and jelly is a staple for American food,” Pastor Johns said. “It’s definitely something that all households can pretty much use.”

The pandemic doubled the number of families that the center helps with food, Pastor Johns added.

“We were feeding about 400 families a month before the pandemic, and during the pandemic, it went to 800 or 1,000 a month,” he said.

Robinson has special thanks for everyone who has helped the drive over the past 12 years.

“The need is always there – hunger is always going to be a part of our community,” Robinson said. “Since this started, now we have a great tool to win.”

If you want to donate to this year’s drive by Friday, you can find a list of drop-off locations here.

You can also make monetary donations to A Hand Up Inc.

Kaley Lynch is a digital reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of her work here.

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