Lawmakers donate 12 dozen jars of peanut butter, jelly
byChristian W. Peck
Public Information Officer
Niagara County Public Information Office
For Rick Updegrove, leader of the Niagara County Legislature's Republican Majority, convincing his caucus to support the third annual Peanut Butter and Jelly Drive may have been the easiest thing he's done all year.
It's also the most rewarding.
"It's the least we could do to help our neighbors in need," the Lockport legislator explained as he carried a cardboard box filled with peanut butter jars from the Niagara County Legislature's ornate chambers to a waiting table in the County Courthouse's rotunda. He was followed by the 11 members of the Legislature's Majority as they each carried out a heavy carton filled with golden or purple jars from their desks on the floor of the Legislature.
A chance conversation earlier in the week with New York State Courts Officer Pete Robinson, one of the annual drive's lead organizers, who often provides security at the County Courthouse, prompted the majority leader to act.
Updegrove convinced the Legislature's Majority Caucus that the charity - an annual drive that netted more than 9,000 jars of peanut butter, jelly and marshmallow fluff for area food pantries last year - and the ongoing economic difficulties impacting the nation made supporting the drive a moral imperative for elected leaders.
The Republican-led Majority rallied strongly around Robinson and the Peanut Butter and Jelly Drive, "passing the hat," in Updegrove's words, to raise enough money to buy 12 dozen jars of sandwich spreads.
The donation follows on a smaller donation by Updegrove and Lockport lawmakers Tony Nemi and Wm. Keith McNall last year.
The exact breakdown of the Majority Caucus's donation was 60 jars of creamy peanut butter, 12 jars of crunchy peanut butter, 48 jars of grape jelly, and 24 jars of marshmallow fluff.
The Peanut Butter and Jelly Drive came about after Robinson discovered that area food pantries often don't have enough sweet - but nutritious - foods that children enjoy. Responding to the need, the courts officer, well-known in local circles for his renditions of the national anthem at various civic events, collected several local volunteers and set up donation sites around Western New York.
For more information on the third annual Peanut Butter and Jelly Drive, which continues through Dec. 6, contact Robinson at 716-510-7108 or Tina Sheley at 716-438-8247, or visit its Facebook group,http://www.facebook.com/groups/peanutbutterandjellydrive.
Individuals wishing to donate may do so by contacting the above individuals or by depositing jars in the blue containers displayed prominently at the following locations:
Middleport, Gasport, Barker, Orleans County:
Pendleton, Town of Lockport, City of Lockport (East):
City of Lockport (West):
Niagara Falls, Newfane and Wilson:
Tonawanda, North Tonawanda, Wheatfield and Grand Island: