They were looking for a fun and uplifting activity. And they were hoping to feed the hungry.
So why not just do both?
Some ideas come together even better than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
For the last four years, Christopher Columbus Charter School eighth-grade student Jenna Thompson and her mother, Robin, have been volunteering with Philabundance, boxing up food to send to families that need it. Last year, they joined Philabundance’s Spread the Love campaign, which provides peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to kids in need. The duo had personally helped raise 765 pounds of peanut butter with the help of Martin Law LLC, where Robin works as a paralegal.
This year, they wanted to take it a step further.
“I asked my daughter if she wanted to try to run this again but to include the school,” Robin said. “From there, it just kind of grew. I loved seeing all the kids get involved in it.”
Jenna is the student body vice president at the school and helped rally the student body for the massive food drive effort. She and her classmates created and hung posters in the school hallways and passed around fliers to help promote the event. The jars of peanut butter started rolling in.
On March 4, all the hard work came to fruition as the two Christopher Columbus Charter School campuses faced off in a competition to see who collected more peanut butter donations over the last month.
Jars of peanut butter stacked high and wide across tables at both campuses with a grand total of 5,414 pounds of peanut butter collected between the two campuses, including the employees at Martin LLC’s donation.
The goal was to double last year’s tally and collect 1,500 pounds this year. They more than tripled that projection. According to Thompson, it will make more than 86,000 sandwiches for hungry kids in the area.
“I had a very close friend who mentioned how, when they were growing up, they were always hungry,” she said. “They had no food in their home. It really bothered me because how did I grow up next to this person and not know my entire life.”
It was a total team effort, as Christopher Columbus Charter School has about 800 students enrolled between the two campuses. Younger students (kindergarten through fifth grade) attend the building at 916 Christian St. while older students (fifth through eighth) go to the facility at 13th and Wharton streets.
Many students went above and beyond during the collection.
“People were on social media and they saw the peanut butter posts and they kept adding peanut butter to the wishlist,” said third-grader Evelyn Bryson, who teamed up with her fifth-grade sister, Madelyn. “The next thing you know, it filled up our whole living room.”
Second-grader Anastasia Pantsios received some help from her dad, who used money from his own wallet to help the cause.
“My dad told me that he was going to go to three different supermarkets,” Pantsios said. “He just kept putting them in the car. There were, like, 150 jars. I really liked it because we really wanted to help our community.”
The competition put the two schools against each other, and the results were read live on Fox 29’s Good Day Philadelphia. The younger campus, known as “Team Chunky” for collecting chunky peanut butter, scored the win with 3,076 pounds. The older students’ “Team Creamy” reeled in an admirable 2,338 pounds.
In the end, they were all winners.
Philabundance’s Spread the Love campaign centers on peanut butter because it is high-protein and kid-friendly, but is often too expensive for families on a budget.
Its goal was to collect 50,000 jars of peanut butter in February to provide more than 640,000 sandwiches to kids in need.
“I feel like you can make a difference in the world,” Bryson said. “One jar of peanut butter can make a whole difference.”