Eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is part of the fun of being a kid (and an adult, too), but some youngsters are denied that simple treat due to their families’ financial circumstances.
The good news is a program aiding neglected or abused children by serving as their advocates during court sessions is also now working to supply this commodity which stirs up memories of happy childhoods in the minds of most folks.
That entity, the Guardian ad Litem program of Surry County, has launched a campaign to help create those same fond memories for children who might not have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as part of their lives.
Through the campaign, which began Tuesday and will continue through Jan. 18, donations of those items are being sought from the public to give to local food banks. It is part of a statewide effort to address childhood hunger by collecting jars of peanut butter and jelly.
Various locations have been established as collection points to provide the community at large an opportunity to help meet that need by dropping off peanut butter and jelly donations.
These include the public libraries in Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain, Dobson and Elkin, along with the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce headquarters and the Surry County Clerk of Court office.
After the collection ends, the donations will be taken directly to local food pantries to be distributed to families in need in Surry County.
Filling a void
Organizers of the peanut butter and jelly campaign recognize that this is a particularly difficult time of year, coming after the Christmas season when avenues for meeting needs for children are greatly diminished.
It offers a chance to continue addressing such needs in a special way with the peanut butter and jelly donations.
All 44 districts of the Guardian ad Litem program in North Carolina are participating in the effort.
That program supplies court-appointed volunteers who serve as voices for youths who have been removed from their homes due to issues of abuse, neglect and dependency and are placed in foster care.
They visit the children, talk with them, find out what they miss, how they are feeling about the situation and generally try to improve the lot of those removed from homes, who range in age from babies to teens.
Guardian ad Litem volunteers see the children regularly and advocate in court for needs they might have, and their wishes.
The Guardian ad Litem program is part of the state Administrative Office of the Courts.
Put into place in 1983 by the N.C. General Assembly, the volunteer-based effort serves children whose families become involved with the Department of Social Services.
Its mission is to train advocates to represent and promote the best interests of these children in the state court system and to work expediently toward a plan that ensures they are in a safe and permanent home.
There is a constant need for volunteers to get to know these children and promote their best interests.
Presently, 75 children being served by Guardians ad Litem in Surry County. But there are 20 others who don’t have a volunteer advocate to represent them and ensure that the court system understands their needs.
Toward that end, a Guardian ad Litem training class will begin next Tuesday and run for six sessions on Tuesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. at Surry Community College Pilot Center.
It takes no special skills to be a Guardian ad Litem, officials say, just a love for children and the desire for the community to be stronger by helping them have safety and permanence.
Interested persons can learn more about the program at www.volunteerforgal.org.