A key ingredient to battling child hunger in Fairbanks is peanut butter.
Every year, Seekins Ford Lincoln spearheads a peanut butter drive for the Fairbanks Community Food Bank. This year’s fundraiser ends June 30.
“This is a key drive for us,” said Anne Weaver, director of the Fairbanks Community Food Bank. “Peanut butter is an easy protein that kids like.” Seekins employees embraced this fundraiser, beginning in 2014 and have remained dedicated to the cause every year since then.
“Peanut butter is a great source of protein,” said Ryan Reinheller, the Seekins social media and marketing manager who spearheads the fundraiser. “It’s easy for kids to make a sandwich and you don’t have to put it in the refrigerator once it is open.”
There is an increased demand for this staple during the summer months, when many children lose access to school nutrition programs.
Every year, the estimated 100 employees at Seekins donate part of their paychecks to this good cause. Sometimes different departments even develop competitions that benefit the Food Bank.
A friends and family drive is also held each year.
“If an employee who donated out of his payroll check wants a chance to win cash prizes at the dealership, he or she has to get five friends or family members to buy one case of peanut butter each,” Reinheller said. “Each case costs $30. They get a chance to win extra cash prizes at the dealership.”
The biggest fundraiser year for the company was in 2018 when they raised enough money to buy eight tons of peanut butter.
When Covid-19 hit, the fundraiser had to go virtual and the drive raised about $17,000. Pre-covid, Seekins would also host a booth at the Midnight Sun Festival, collaborating with Kiwanis Club members, and help sell donations of peanut butter for the peanut butter drive.
“As people would donate, we would move it from the peanut butter truck into the Food Bank truck,” Reinheller said.
“This drive is so essential to the Food Bank,” Weaver said. “When Covid hit and grocery stores literally ran out of food, we had enough peanut butter on the shelves because of this drive. We were able to get through that period. When there was no peanut butter on anybody’s shelves, we still had some. We didn’t miss a day of service.”
“It became kind of a giggle around the Food Bank,” she added. “We would say, we are the only place in town with peanut butter.”
“Seekins is a wonderful partner,” Weaver said. “Seekins employees are real super heroes. They lead the charge on this. They actually have competitions with themselves internally. Some of the biggest donors are the Seekins employees. They are wonderful contributors, each one of them.
“They have developed a culture of giving to the Food Bank.”
There’s still time to donate. Just go to Seekins.com, click on the peanut butter link, right under About Us. A link there will take you directly to a donation page.
Reinheller praised the Food Bank for its dedication to battling child hunger and putting the peanut drive to good use.
“They do most of the work getting it to families and kids who need it,” he said. “That’s where most of the recognition should go.”
Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @FDNMKris.