The Arc logo

It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

Have volunteer activities gotten stale? Donating and shelving canned goods at food pantries or making and delivering meals are fun and meaningful activities that work so well that we seldom think outside the (donation) box. However, the time is always right to put a twist on these old favorites and create a new instant classic, as The Arc of South Carolina did this past MLK Day.

PB&J CompetitionThe Arc of South Carolina was awarded a 2017 MLK Day of Service* grant to provide food to members of the local community in need. The chapter decided to focus its activities in Lexington and Richland Counties, which continue to suffer from a lack of access to food and high levels of poverty since a flood in 2015.

On the 2017 MLK Day of Service, The Arc of South Carolina and The University of South Carolina’s Best Buddies Program teamed up for a one-of-a-kind event: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich-making competition.

Volunteers had a great time making sandwiches and competing with one another. Volunteers who could make the fast PB&J sandwich or make the most sandwiches in 1- to 5-minute intervals won event t-shirts.

But just like the two flavors of peanut butter and jelly come together to make one great taste, the best part of this event was the result. After the competition ended, volunteers worked together to distribute sandwiches to homeless people in the area and to families who frequent a local food pantry that was closed for the day. Because MLK Day is a federal holiday, many local food pantries and soup kitchens are closed; so, these sandwiches helped feed people who may have otherwise gone hungry.

The whole day was a smashing success, proving that creativity and community service go together like PB&J. For more on inclusive volunteering and how disability organizations can build partnerships that serve community needs and strengthen The Arc’s presence in the community, visit

*In 2015, The Arc was selected by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that leads the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, to plan and execute volunteer projects that unite Americans in service for the MLK Day of Service and throughout the year. To date, 16 chapters of The Arc around the country have organized inclusive volunteer service projects where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) volunteer alongside people without disabilities to provide food to people in their communities who are in need. In total, these projects have brought together over 1,000 volunteers to serve more than 14,000 people in need.