'PB & J' Drive underway for local charities

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

The Bank of North Georgia, a division of Synovus Bank, is hosting its Fourth Annual Peanut Butter and Jelly Food Drive to benefit 30 local food pantries that are located near the bank's 42 branches.

"The challenging economy has caused more and more families to reach out to local food banks for assistance and we felt compelled to take action," said Rob Garcia, President and Chief Operating Officer of Bank of North Georgia. "Our team has a genuine soft spot for kids, and we want to be sure they have the nutritious food they need to get through the day energized and excited to learn."

Local non-profits — including the Stockbridge-based Helping in His Name Ministries, Inc.; the Riverdale-based Hearts to Nourish Hope, Inc.; the Covington, Ga.-based Community Food Pantry of Covington; and the Fayetteville, Ga.-based Fayette Samaritans — are among the charities chosen to benefit from the annual drive.

Officials at Hearts to Nourish Hope estimate the non-profit has experienced a 10 percent increase in need, from referrals and applications to its food pantry.

"I would definitely say the economy has a lot to do with it," said Darryll Starks, director of special projects at Hearts to Nourish Hope. "Our food pantry services over 300 families per month. Any donations we receive from the food drive would be used to help provide for those families, and to stock our pantry."

Now through April 30, during normal banking hours, the regional branches will be collecting donations of peanut butter and jelly. Area residents are encouraged to visit any of the branches to drop off as much peanut butter and jelly as they can.

Neardrop-off locations include two bank branches in Conyers, two branches in Covington, and one in Fayetteville, McDonough, Peachtree City, Riverdale, and Stockbridge. For more about the locations and branch hours, visit www.bankofnorthgeorgia.com.