Summer vacations are winding down and school is right around the corner.
Parents will soon begin shopping for school supplies, and teachers are getting back into the classroom mode.
The Bank of North Georgia is doing its part to help with an inaugural Back to School Peanut Butter and Jelly Food Drive.
The drive, which begins on Monday and runs through July 26, will benefit 17 local food banks located near some 34 local bank offices.
Unlike a conventional food drive, the Bank of North Georgia has adopted a new approach. Communications Manager Lauren Muzzy, who works out of the company's headquarters in Alpharetta, said the bank came up with the idea to go along with the pending return to the classroom.
"It's good timing because people are gearing up to go back to school," she said. "Around this time, the food pantries are always getting low as it is. So we took that and thought we would zero in on these two items. Everyone loves peanut butter and jelly."
In reality, peanut butter and jelly seems like an excellent choice. The food is canned and will have a long shelf life. Not to mention, kids love it, says Muzzy.
"Of course, we all loved it as kids," Muzzy said. "Whether you eat it with the crust on or off, whatever kind of jelly you like, peanut butter and jelly is always a favorite."
The Covington branch, located at 4128 Ga. Highway 278, will support the Covington Salvation Army as well as the Community Food Pantry in the Newton Plaza on Turner Lake Circle.
Muzzy said the bank approached the food pantry and other local food bank partners with the idea and they were excited from the outset.
"It goes farther than any other single item," said Covington Salvation Army director Jodi Carver about peanut butter and jelly. "I thought it was a really cool idea, and it is something we don't typically get."
Carver said the food pantry receives canned vegetables and soups but often times, they lack canned meats and items such as peanut butter and jelly because they go overlooked when people buy items to donate.
Carver works with her assistant director to put together food baskets, which they give out according to need. She says the influx of peanut butter and jelly will help tremendously.
"Right now it is especially good because we are running low on those items," she said. "Often times we get bread but don't have items to send with it. Peanut butter and jelly works well with that."
Carver added the drive should help families as they prepare to spend money in other areas before sending their children back to school.
Inside each bank will be a drop box. Marketing coordinator Chris Settles will spearhead the Newton County effort and said the drop box will be very visible once customers walk into the branch.
The drive is not without fun. The bank has distributed blank copies of the drive's logo for children to color while they wait for their parents. To encourage employees, the bank will have a company-wide competition to see which branch collects the most peanut butter and jelly.
"We are going to add a fun twist," Muzzy said. "We will weigh all the peanut butter and jelly at each location to see who collects the most. It's a fun way to get everyone involved."
Five local radio stations have also jumped on board. Muzzy said she approached several stations the company regularly advertises with. Kicks 101.5, B98.5, 97.1 The River, WSB AM 750 and Dave FM have all agreed to air public service announcements free of charge throughout the two weeks.
Once the food drive is complete, branch officials will deliver the items to each drop. Muzzy said all types of peanut butter, from crunchy or creamy to Skippy or generic, and any flavor jelly is welcome. Ultimately, the food will help those in need.
"This summer, we believe it's taking the time to partner with our local food banks and collect food for the children in our community that need it the most," Bank of North Georgia President and CEO Kessel Stelling said. "We hope to get children off to a great start this year by doing our part in providing some essential nutrition in their lunch boxes."