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Working circles around the younger crowd

Eagle’s Trace volunteers nuts about helping others

Created date

March 26th, 2013

Call it Houston s hottest volunteer ticket. The peanut butter factory off Hafer Road on the city s north side presents a prized volunteer opportunity for many area corporations and churches. Operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the factory produces between 300,000 and 350,000 jars of peanut butter for the Houston Food Bank every year. Peanut butter is one of the most requested items at the Food Bank, says Clyde Black, a church member who oversees the volunteers at the factory.

Collaborative effort

The food bank provides funding for the peanuts, the church provides the factory, and volunteers provide the manpower. The factory runs every week from Thursday morning straight through to Saturday evening, says Black. Once we fire up the machines, we don t want to turn them off until we re done for the week. Church members take the evening shifts, but we have two four-hour shifts a day that are filled by area volunteers. When the volunteer shifts for 2013 were released online, the spots filled in three days, according to Black. Pat Osborne, chairman of the Community Outreach Committee atEagle s Trace, snagged two opportunities for the residents and staff at Eagle s Trace to work at the peanut butter factory. We worked an afternoon shift on January 17 and a morning shift on January 31, says Pat. We were able to get a last-minute shift in 2012 and had such a good response that we knew this was an opportunity we wanted to pursue in 2013. Twenty residents and staff members volunteered for each shift. Eagle s Trace resident Donna Schlitt has worked at the factory twice before with her church, but she was eager to go again with the group from Eagle s Trace. This is such a neat experience, and it feels good to contribute to the greater Houston community, says Donna.

Productive crew

After donning the required aprons and hairnets, Eagle s Trace residents and staff members were assigned jobs along the assembly line everything from preparing the peanuts to packaging the filled jars. Typically, a group of volunteers makes between 4,000 and 5,000 jars of peanut butter in one four-hour shift. During their shift on January 17, the volunteers from Eagle s Trace canned 6,600 jars of peanut butter. And despite a malfunction of one of the machines during their shift on January 31, Eagle s Trace volunteers still managed to can 5,544 jars of peanut butter. The volunteers from Eagle s Trace worked consistently throughout each shift with very few breaks, says Black. They took their jobs very seriously. I think that work ethic stems from the nature of our residents and staff, says Pat. They see a need and want to fill it.

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