The Harrodsburg teen began collecting peanut butter in August, after his mom helped him realize that he didn’t know what it meant to truly be hungry, while there were others in their community that did.
“It got me to thinking about how some people just go to bed hungry . In my own community, there are people that go to bed hungry. It just tugged at my heartstrings a little and made me feel sad,” Guay said.
After thinking it over, he settled on the idea of collecting peanut butter, choosing it because of the nutritional benefits, specifically the protein available.
Guay explained that it could help people get the protein they might ordinarily obtain from meat, which is more expensive. Also, peanut butter is something children can help themselves with, making it easier for working parents to not have to worry as much.
To start, Guay, with the help of his parents Don and Dana, began contacting area schools and churches, placing boxes in these locations for people to donate. They also contacted people who would be able to get the food into the hands of those who need it.
“I didn’t realize what a need there was,” said Dana Guay.
She said they try to keep some of the donations on hand, in case someone calls in desperate need of food, but most go out “instantly.”
Some of the groups that benefit from the Peanut Butter Project, also called One Jar at a Time, include the backpack programs in Mercer and Burgin school systems, which send food home with low-income students for the weekend, and local food pantries and churches. All of the peanut butter collected in Mercer County stays within the county.
“I want to help the community that’s helped me,” said Mac Guay.
He is a member of many organizations in the community and at Mercer County Senior High School, including Harrodsburg Baptist Church; Family, Career and Community Leaders of America; and the school’s track and football teams. All of these have taught him the importance of building a strong community.
Since he began in August, the teen has gathered about 615 pounds of peanut butter but still has a way to go to reach his goal of 2,000 pounds by Dec. 25. He plans to continue the project at least through his senior year of high school.
His project also has inspired others in the community, including a 7-year-old girl who gave up her birthday gifts for peanut butter donations. A friend who is a student at the University of Kentucky gathered donations from within his fraternity. They also have had responses from various community and school organizations, which have begun acting as collection centers for the project.
Other groups, such as the Health Occupation Student Association at Mercer County Senior High School, are planning to do their own collections to benefit the project.
There was even a mini peanut butter package left in a collection box. Guay and his mom speculate it may have been given by a child attending the nursery where the box was stationed.
Dana Guay is amazed at what “one person can do easily” simply by word of mouth and social media.
While they haven’t had the opportunity to deliver the food to very many of the final recipients, the teen said he did get a chance to meet a few people.
“People are just happy to see someone doing something to help,” he said.