By SHERI GASSAWAY
Affton, MO – Each Wednesday, Insulators Local 1 retiree Kevin FitzGerald enlists the help of a few friends to make peanut and butter and jelly sandwiches that are delivered to the area’s unhoused. He calls it the Peanut Butter and Jelly Brigade.
Last week, FitzGerald had a little help with the effort from the South County Democratic Club, which hosted a sandwich-making event that yielded a whopping 1,250 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
“I pulled up to the event, and the parking lot was just packed,” FitzGerald told the Labor Tribune. “I thought maybe people were there for another event. I walked inside and saw all these people making sandwiches, and I was just humbled.”
Ann Zimpfer, committeewoman for the Concord Township Democratic Committee, said the club was looking for a way to give back to the community as part of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day service project. The event was held at the Affton Fire Protection District’s Station 1 House at 9282 Gravois Road.
‘SPREAD PEANUT BUTTER TO SPREAD HOPE’
“I was reading about Martin Luther King, Jr. and saw something about spreading hope to commemorate the day,” said Zimpfer, who organized the event. “Then I remembered Kevin because we had worked with him before and thought ‘We could spread peanut butter to spread hope.’”
Last year about 10 members from the club set up shop in Zimpfer’s kitchen and made about 200 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that were donated to the Peanut Butter and Jelly Brigade.
“We had a very good turnout at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day event because a lot of people had the day off and people brought their kids,” Zimpfer said. “The younger children – too young to make sandwiches – made cards for residents in local nursing homes.”
There were about 50 people at the event including many candidates and elected officials including Sen. Doug Beck (D-Affton), a member of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562, and Jeanette Schoenberg and Bridget Sinamon, of the Affton School Board.
In addition to the sandwiches, participants also brought 20 bags full of food and warm winter gear like socks, gloves and scarves that were divided between FitzGerald and Feed My People.
‘EVERYTHING WILL BE USED’
“This wonderful event could NOT have come at a better time,” FitzGerald said, noting the area’s freezing temperatures. “Everything will be used. I will be contacting and making the rounds of shelters and other organizations to share all of these valuables.”
FitzGerald dropped off some of the items at The T, a holistic harm reduction program located at 5874 Delmar Blvd. in St. Louis, and Larry Rice Ministries. He also goes into the unhoused community to donate items directly.
‘CARE ABOUT OTHERS’
“This gathering was incredibly warm, comforting and exciting – people coming together, young, older, children to help the least of us,” FitzGerald said. “It demonstrates that there are many who care about others. If I would have had to put one more package in my car, the windows would have burst.”
While FitzGerald is grateful for the South County Democratic Club’s help in his effort, he saluted the usual members of the Peanut Butter and Jelly Brigade for contributing every week.
To help FitzGerald in the effort, call him at 636-399-4147.