Residents, staff members volunteer at the Houston Peanut Butter Cannery
HOUSTON, TX---For eighteen volunteers from Eagle's Trace, the Erickson Living retirement community in Houston, peanut butter is usually about picking smooth or crunchy at the grocery store.
But in January, the group of fifteen residents and three employees from the Dining Services Department and Pastoral Ministries received a lesson in "Peanut Butter 101" by giving of their time to the Houston Peanut Butter Cannery of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints in Houston.
"I never thought we'd be making peanut butter from beginning to finish," stated Pat Osborne, member of the Eagle's Trace Community Outreach Committee.
At the cannery, volunteers, typically from local businesses and non-profit organizations, donate a four-hour shift under the watchful eye of the Church's experienced staff.
The end result is a boon for charity: each shift produces 4,000 jars of peanut butter, processing 8,800 pounds of raw peanuts.
In alternating weeks, the peanut butter is sent to the Houston Food Bank and the Texas Food Bank Network; in just two days of production, more than 16,000 jars are packed.
In other weeks, the cannery produces peanut butter for the Church's Welfare Distribution System, where jars are distributed for emergencies. In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, for example, 9,000 food boxes and nearly 13,000 blankets were sent to those in need.
According to Fred Hinson, corporate liaison for humanitarian services, the Church has been producing peanut butter for forty-seven years. "The original operation in the 1960's was in a renovated movie theater in Baytown, Texas. Since the mid-1970's, we've been in our current location on Hafer Road in Houston," described Mr. Hinson.
After an orientation session, the group from Eagle's Trace got to work. From unloading the peanuts to placing jars on the conveyor belt to stacking jars on pallets, each volunteer received an appropriate task.
"We didn't know what to expect, but the entire experience was worthwhile and fun," stated Ms. Osborne. "It was a wonderful opportunity to be part of such a well-organized program that helps those in need in Texas and beyond. And the sample jar that each of us got to take back to Eagle's Trace was a nice reward."
The group is looking forward to returning next year.
About Eagle's Trace: Eagle's Trace, managed and developed by Erickson Living, is a retirement community that provides worry-free living for America's seniors-the country's fastest growing population segment. Erickson Living's financial value and predictable monthly service fees provide residents across the country financial peace of mind. Comprehensive health and wellness services, integrated into our continuum of care, lead to demonstrated resident benefits. A robust complement of resident programs and facilities promote an engaged, fulfilling lifestyle that is reflected in resident satisfaction levels that exceed the industry average. For more information, please visit www.ericksonliving.com.