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Nutworthy cause benefits food bank, inspires community

  • Published
  • By Alex Salinas
  • Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs
While many 10-year-olds are at the cusp of coming into their own, being neither a toddler nor adolescent, Emma Driggers, Randolph Elementary School student, has a pretty significant grasp of the outside world and her place in it.

And that's not to say Emma is not your average 10-year-old. It's that simply put, her recent actions of collecting and donating more than 500 jars of peanut butter to the San Antonio Food Bank on Monday are quite above average, for any age.

Her efforts are also symbolic of her willingness to serve her community.

"I watched the Disney Channel and heard about a program they have called Friends for Change," where Disney stars urge viewers to take action on environmental issues, Driggers said. "That inspired me to want to help people."

This is where Emma's mother, Janet, suggested the San Antonio Food Bank to Emma as an organization to support.

"I did some research and found out that many peanut crops have been dried out by lack of rainfall," Emma said. "That's when I decided to collect peanut butter jars," setting a goal of 500 jars, which she exceeded.

Using the base's signature tight-knit community as a foundation, Driggers wrote a letter to her school principal asking for help, where she was directed to her student council.

"By forming a committee involving Emma and four other student council members, we were able to get the entire school involved in donating peanut butter to the food bank," Allison Harley, Randolph Elementary School student council co-sponsor, said, where they were able to collect 250 peanut butter jars alone.

Soon after, Lori Kendall, Randolph housing resident, decided to chip in on the fundraising efforts with help from a group she and Janet Driggers were in called the Sweaty Housewives, an informal Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph workout/social club.

"The Sweaty Housewives was a great avenue to get some extra help for the food bank," Kendall said. "We spread the word pretty quickly and it was fun getting friends involved."

Kendall, who has volunteered for the San Antonio Food Bank's Mobile Pantry, which comes filled with fresh, frozen and nonperishable food items distributed to families in need, said Emma's fundraising showcases the food bank's many volunteering opportunities for all ages.

"We ask for three things: food, time and money," Veronica Laurel, San Antonio Food Bank communication manager, said.

Many of the food bank's age requirements for tasks are set up to where children of many ages can participate without worrying about whether they are old enough.

In fact, some of the volunteering opportunities allow children as young as 8 years old to share their time.

Some of the opportunities for the younger audience include gardening, which allows volunteers a chance to plant fruits and vegetables, and warehouse assistance, where volunteers help sort food items into their proper bins.

"Our food bank is a great way for people to become involved and nutritionally aware to lead healthy lives, as well as to lend a helping hand to those in need," Laurel said.

Any degree of help can make a large impact, Laurel said, where even a $1 donation can be turned into $13 of purchasing power from the food bank towards groceries.

"Seeing people in line (at the Mobile Pantry distributions), some of them 18 years old, barely older than my own kids, is always hard," Kendall said.

Kendall's life-changing experiences with the food bank made her more than happy to assist Emma, and encourage all base members to expand their horizons in similar ways.

"It made my heart swell as a parent to see the fundraising take root," Janet Driggers said. "This has been a humbling experience and makes us feel blessed to be able to give back to the community. If I have something to give, I'll give it."

As for Emma's thoughts on her humanitarian venture?

"It feels good to help people, and it was a lot of fun," she said. "They were all very nice to me."

"Service before self" appears to extend well beyond Airmen.

Contact the San Antonio Food Bank at 471-8311 for volunteering opportunities, or visit them at for more information.