April 2 is National PB&J Day, but the Which Wich sandwich shops know the value of a good peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich year-round — especially when it's going to a person who may not have another meal that day.
Project PB&J is an initiative to help feed the hungry, said Jay Goldstein, chief operating officer for the franchise's Front Range locations.
“It's heartbreaking what some people have to go through,” Goldstein said. “This gives us a chance to help the less fortunate.”
At every Which Wich location nationwide, customers have the option to purchase a $3 peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich to give to charity. Then, for each sandwich purchased, Which Wich donates two.
Some local charities that benefit from Project PB&J are food banks such as Tri-Lakes Cares, homeless shelters, Boys & Girls Clubs and Shiloh House. Deliveries to any one of the charities are done on just about a daily basis, Monday through Friday, Goldstein said.
“It's just natural to give back to the community,” Goldstein said. “To see the reaction of the kids and families reminds me how fortunate we are.”
Project PB&J began in the Front Range in March 2014. Which Wich's Cornerstar location in Aurora, near Parker and Arapahoe roads, was the first to make a donation of 100 sandwiches. A local church was preparing a clothing and food donation and reached out, said manager Tyanna Bourret.
“They started applauding when I arrived,” she said, added that the church reached out to hundreds of restaurants within 15 miles of its location, and Which Wich was the only one that agreed to join the effort.
About a year later, Which Wich reached its 25,000th donated peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich on March 20.
“It took a while for people to make it part of the culture,” Goldstein said, but “we're really hitting our stride now.”
In one week, on average, the Front Range stores' combined efforts donate 1,100 sandwiches, with the Highlands Ranch and Lone Tree locations being the tops for sales of peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches to benefit Project PB&J. In fact, Goldstein said, Denver leads the initiative out of about 400 Which Wich locations nationwide.
That is something to be proud of, said Goldsteind, who, along with his business partner, Jeff Gordan, co-owns the 11 Front Range locations that participate in Project PB&J. Goldstein and Gordan's Which Wiches has a reach as far north as Fort Collins, and as far south as Colorado Springs.
Project PB&J impacts a lot of less fortunate people in a positive way, Bourret said.
“We're bringing them more than just sandwiches,” she said. “We're making their day. We're giving them their only meal for the day, sometimes.”
On April 2, all 11 Front Range Which Wich locations will donate an extra 100 peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches — in addition to what customers purchase that day.
Goldstein recalled when the initiative first came to the Highlands Ranch location at Town Center, one customer approached an employee in the parking lot, and asked if the store participated in Project PB&J. When the employee said yes, the customer held out his hand, Goldstein said, and in it was a $100 bill.
“Our customers have big hearts, and they're very generous,” Goldstein said. Project PB&J “wouldn't be possible without them.”
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