ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- Heidi Damon's Christmas tree is covered in ornaments, childhood photos with Santa, and jars upon jars of peanut butter.
"So far, I have 1,094 under the tree," she says. And she's hoping for hundreds more.
It's all for the peanut butter drive she's created called Spread Awareness, aimed at fighting hunger.
"I think that people take for granted peanut butter in their pantry," Damon says. "But to someone who has hardly anything, I hope they get some relief, and I think we've all been there. At some point in time, we've all had struggles in our life."
This goal was inspired by Damon's own struggles. One afternoon in August 2009, in an Ybor City parking garage, Damon was attacked by a stranger and nearly killed. The teen who pleaded guilty to the incident had choked her until she suffered a seizure and passed out.
She faced her attacker in court as he was sentenced to 15 years in prison, followed by 10 years of probation. She's also shared her story nationally in hopes of helping others.
"Helping people -- it's just always been my life's mission," she says. "It's my eternal purpose."
It's purpose through peanut butter, which may not be the first item you'd think of for a food drive. But it's actually in demand at local charities, and rarely donated.
"Peanut butter is one of those staples that we give to every family who comes through our outreach, so we go through a lot of it," says David Bledsoe with Metropolitan Ministries, one of the organizations that the Spread Awareness drive benefits.
"It was breathtaking when I walked into this door and saw all the peanut butter sitting there," says Carolyn Riggins with Feeding America of Tampa Bay. "She has made a big difference in what we do on a daily basis."
For Damon, making that difference comes naturally.
"It wasn't me that made this happen," she says. "I just started it. It's everyone in the community that came together and made it possible."
To donate jars of peanut butter, you can email Heidi or drop them off at the following locations:
Florida Business Interiors: 1600 E. 8th Ave., Suite C-201, Tampa
Breezin Entertainment: 3711 Swann Ave, Tampa
Mutual of Omaha Bank: 302 N. Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa
Love That: 4109-B South MacDill Ave, Tampa
Emelina's Bridal and Boutique: 9306 N. Armenia Ave, Tampa
Brewer & Sons Funeral Home: 3328 S. Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa
Brewer & Sons Funeral Home: 7701 W. Hillsborough Ave, Town 'n' Country