Sticky Spoons Jam to host canned food drive for area pantry

NILES — From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16, people can celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend by making donations that will leave both a sweet feeling in hearts and on taste buds.

Niles-based business Sticky Spoons Jam, LLC will host “Share the Love Food-Raiser” at Apothica Teas, 222 E. Main St., Niles. Those who bring at least 10 non-perishable, non-glass food items or toiletries can receive one of 50 jams, jellies and maple syrups.

Aiye Akhigbe, Sticky Spoons’ owner, volunteer Jules Ford and others will then pack up all the donations and drive them over to Mount Calvary Baptist Church’s food pantry, kitty-corner to the church at 602 Ferry St., Niles.

Then, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays, people needing items ranging from spaghetti noodles to shelf-stable milk to feminine hygiene products to laundry detergent, can stop by the pantry and pick up what they need.

“We are immensely grateful for our customers, but we also need to give to our community, and this is how we want to do it,” she said.

Akhigbe’s “food-raiser” is her first, but her history of giving runs deep in both her business and her family.

Late last year, she gave gift baskets filled with Sticky Spoons jams and jellies to three people nominated for their kindness. At home, canned goods are gifted during birthdays, which are then donated to food pantries.

This year’s food drive is a result of Sticky Spoons’ two charitable commitments, food security and education. Akhigbe said she saw food insecurity while growing up Nigeria and has continued to see in the other places she has lived, from Washington state to Niles. 

“Nobody should go hungry,” Akhigbe said. “We’re in southwest Michigan, one of the hotbeds of agriculture in America.”

Bev Woodson and Linda Bradford, Mount Calvary members and food pantry volunteers, called Akhigbe’s event a “blessing.”

“This is God’s doing to help us out so we can keep our pantry open,” Bradford said.

Mount Calvary’s food pantry is nearing its 10th anniversary. Woodson said despite ebbs in flows in its volunteer base and open hours, it has continued to provide needed items to needy families.

She encouraged people to donate all sorts of foods and items to Akhigbe’s food drive. Different-sized items are helpful to meet the needs of different-sized families, she added.

Akhigbe said peanut butter would be a great pairing for her jam business’ event, although only peanut butter donations would not be too practical.

If people are not among the first 50 donators, they may purchase items at Apothica Teas that feature Sticky Spoons’ jams.

They may also follow Sticky Spoons’ Facebook page to look out for future food drives and booth setups.

Akhigbe plans to host “Share the Love Food-Raiser” again Valentine’s Day weekend 2021. She is also still accepting nominations for her kindness baskets.