Coleman Center collecting PB&J for Task Force

By HASKEL BURNS,

Each month, a department or school from the Petal School District is assigned a certain item to gather and donate to the Petal Children’s Task Force, which uses the donations to help put together the food baskets they distribute throughout the community.

This month happens to be peanut butter and jelly month, and there’s still time for schools and members of the public to get those PB&J donations in to The Coleman Center for Families and Children before October is over.

“So everybody gets to join in on the fun, and we collect things based on what (the task force) needs at that period in time,” said Dede Smith, director of The Coleman Center, which is part of the Petal School District. “Several of our child care centers participate in collecting peanut butter and jelly at their sites as well.

“Sherri Sundeen’s kids at Mimi’s Playhouse, they actually earn money from their families by doing chores at home, and she takes them to the grocery store to purchase the peanut butter and jelly, and then they bring it here together. So every group does it differently, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a school – just any individual can stop by and drop off a jar of peanut butter or jelly, and then at the end of the month we’ll deliver those things to the task force.”

The different food drives are coordinated by Demaris Lee, director of the Children’s Task Force, who communicates the need for certain items the organization may be lacking for their food boxes.

“She’s been doing this for a long time, so she knows what the needs are at different times of the year,” Smith said. “For example, when kids are out of school, we might collect some things the kids can open up and eat on their own, in case their parents are working.

“We tailor our donations based upon what their needs are, so we’re continually communicating with them. They’re great partners, and support us in other ways, so it’s just another way that our district (helps). People don’t really know that we do that, but everybody in the district participates in these donations, so it’s a big deal and we appreciate the work that the task force does.”

All donations can be dropped off during business hours at The Coleman Center for Families and Children at 201 West Central Ave. in Petal.

Although donations have started out slow, that is expected to pick up after the area pre-schools finish their projects and deliver their haul toward the end of the month.

“Its always like this; it always comes down toward the end,” Smith said. “So we’re excited about it, and we love partnering with them and helping them.”

The Petal Children’s Task Force was founded in 1989 and continues to provide food and clothing assistance to residents in the Petal area, including those who don’t have children in the Petal School District. For more information, call (601) 255-5578.