Charleston Basket Brigade feeds 21,000 people for Thanksgiving
Hundreds of eager volunteers gathered at the Charleston Area Convention Center to pack Thanksgiving meal boxes for the 10th annual Charleston Basket Brigade on Tuesday, Nov. 21.
Exhibit Hall C, which is provided for free by the convention center, was buzzing with energy bright and early as community members of all ages showed up ready to help pack and deliver 3,500 boxes to families in the tri-county area.
As part of the program, each family in need receives a box that contains food to cook an entire Thanksgiving meal to feed six to 10 people, which includes a 10 to 12 pound frozen turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, corn, green beans, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, fresh rolls and pumpkin pie. The box also includes an anonymous letter that reads, “This comes to you from someone who cares about you. All we ask is that you take care of yourself well enough to be able to do this for someone else one day.”
With those 3,500 boxes, the Charleston Basket Brigade was able to feed approximately 21,000 people this year, according to co-founder and Daniel Island resident Pam Hartley. And since the nonprofit’s inception, they have been able to feed over 150,000 area residents in need.
“We have grown from 75 meals we prepared in 2008 to 3,500 this year,” said Hartley. “Over the past 10 years, we have raised $745,860 with the community’s help. With that, we have fed 24,862 families that are need here in the tri-county area. That is approximately 150,000 people that have enjoyed Thanksgiving because of this program.”
Hartley added that without the community’s help, the program would not be where it is today. Because of partners, schools and community members, the brigade has been able to expand its reach.
“In 2008, my good friend Michelle Scarafile gave me a call and asked if I wanted to feed families for Thanksgiving and I said absolutely,” said Hartley. “Together we raised enough money from our family and friends to give donations to feed 75 families. From there we got our community partners involved like Carolina One Real Estate, Piggly Wiggly, schools that find our families and community members - and because of that it has grown exponentially over the past 10 years.”
Co-founder Scarafile echoed Hartley’s sentiments, emphasizing the importance of community involvement and donations.
“…The community got involved and this thing has just snowballed,” said Scarafile. “We’ve been able to make such a difference for people here in the Lowcountry. It would not happen without each and every one of you. Even the $5 donations, the $10 donations and the donations of time, have helped tremendously.”
Daniel Island resident Garth Cook, who brought his daughter Arianna Cook and her friend Lauren Lauderback, who both attend Philip Simmons High School, explained that taking part in the program is important to his family.
“We live on Daniel Island and have known Pam Hartley for about seven years and we recognize her as a true servant leader in the community,” said Cook. “We’re just very privileged to be able to serve the community and also bring the next generation of kids to learn how to serve their community.”
Although the Charleston Basket Brigade raises money throughout the year by collecting donations, community members will also collect funds for the program on their own, continued Hartley.
“Meryl Cromarty, who works at Daniel Island Real Estate, has been a huge part of the basket brigade since day one,” said Hartley. “She also has gotten money from the Daniel Island Community Fund to help match some donations, which has been huge for us as well. Neighbors and community members will also do fundraising efforts throughout the years, go door-to-door and do bake sales—all kinds of different things. The community has been really instrumental in supporting us.”
While the program accepts donations of any amount, the suggested amount is $100, according to the website. A donation of $30 feeds one family of six to 10 people. For more information, or to make a donation, www.charlestonbasketbrigade.com.