Saturday, November 21, 2015

Basket Brigade

Each year in our county something very special happens the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Numerous volunteers converge on our local state college to deliver Thanksgiving baskets to families in need in the communities in our county.  This year at my school, 3 of our service clubs collaborated to create 2 baskets each. I also sent home the event flyer inviting club students and their parents to participate by creating a basket  and/or helping to deliver baskets as a family. I am proud to say 2 of our students and their parents showed up along with my school principal and myself.  All of us together, along with dozens of other volunteers contributed to the almost 600 hundred baskets which were collected and delivered.

This grassroots project was started 19 years ago by a gentleman named Jay, who had attended a conference that encouraged people to give back and make a change in their community.  The Basket Brigade was his brainchild.  His idea involved collecting addresses only, no names, of families in need, create a basket (think laundry basket) with everything required for a Thanksgiving meal (no perishables, include a gift card for a turkey) and deliver it to their home. No judgments, no questions, just Happy Thanksgiving from someone who cares about you.

My District Counseling Specialist has taken a huge role in this project and Jay told me today he is in the process of  handing off the Basket Brigade to her.  Around the beginning of October each year, our Counseling Specialist sends out an email to all our School Counselors asking for the addresses of families in need.  Families are not told about the baskets, as there is no guarantee there will be enough donated for all the addresses collected. This information is compiled in a data base, sorted by region of the county, and Mapquest directions are printed for each address. Baskets are collected throughout the month of October and November and on the Saturday before Thanksgiving a huge staging area is set up in the parking lot of our state college who has partnered with Jay in this venture.

 Long before the anyone else arrives at the college, event organizers have laid out baskets in the parking lot, set up tables for doughnuts, registration of volunteer delivery drivers, notes for baskets, and the addresses of families divided by region.  People begin arriving around 8:00 a.m. dropping of baskets, visiting and eating doughnuts before the distribution of addresses, the send-off message, and instructions.

Our instructions were safety first and to go with a buddy. The police had been notified, and were aware, we would be out in the neighborhoods delivering today. Then they asked us to remember the house we deliver to make look nicer than our own, but we don't know that family's story.  Some homes may look abandoned, but there may be families that really live there.  We were told not to leave baskets as that has caused problems in certain neighborhoods.  One of our addresses turned out to be a 4 unit apartment building.  We had no idea which door to deliver to, so I called Jay.  He said, "Just choose one, or look for one with kids."  So we did.  There was a  mom putting two dirty, bedraggled kids in a car.  I asked her if she lived at 316.  She said she did, so I said, "Happy Thanksgiving from someone who cares."  She gratefully took the basket, then said, "We sent food to my daughter's school last week."  My husband told her,  "Good things come back to you."

And it's so true.  Good things do come back to you.  Not always in the physical, tangible sense, but in knowing that  nearly 600 families in our county will be having a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration because I, along with dozens of others, gave up 3 hours on a Saturday to be part of the Basket Brigade.  It was an amazing experience and I look forward to getting my school more involved next year.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

No comments:

Post a Comment