Couple, Planters sponsor back to school

Published 10:08 pm Monday, August 29, 2016

Steve and Patricia Watson couldn’t have predicted an annual event they started just for their grandchildren and their friends would end up like this.

The Watsons started giving away backpacks and school supplies and having an end-of-summer cookout six years ago. With 17 grandchildren and their friends, even the small number they started with was around 60 kids. It had ballooned to around 100, including neighborhood kids, by last year’s fifth anniversary of the event. Watson was funding the event out of his own paycheck.

That was when Steve Watson’s employer, Planters Peanuts, got wind of the event.

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“They have this program where you do things outside of your job, and they honor you for it,” Watson said.

Kraft Heinz, the parent company of Planters, decided to sponsor this year’s event. They donated money for more food, more school supplies, more backpacks and more fun.

The expanded event had to be moved from the Watsons’ backyard to Planters Park, where it took place Saturday afternoon.

The Planters NUTmobile and the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile were on site for kids to check out. Kids were tossing footballs and playing in the bounce houses, and there was plenty of food to go around.

Steve Watson said he enjoys doing the event.

“I like to give,” he said. “No matter what situation I’m in, I like to see people happy.”