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Basket Brigade feeding hundreds of families this week

Posted on November 21st, 2022 By:

For the past several weeks, school kids, business owners and nonprofits have been decorating cardboard boxes that will be filled with Thanksgiving dinners and delivered to families in need in Gig Harbor and beyond.

From eight families to hundreds

It’s part of the Thanksgiving Basket Brigade, a program founded in 1993 by Gig Harbor resident David Cathers.

While the boxes are being decorated, other volunteers have been collecting food items that will fill them and making lists of families who’ll receive them.

“That first year, the Basket Brigade gave Thanksgiving meals to just eight families,” Cathers said. “Our list has grown every year and in 2019 we delivered more than 1,500 baskets.”

Volunteers carry turkeys while assembling meals for the Basket Brigade campaign on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. Vince Dice

Volunteers began connecting with prospective donors last spring. Safeway and Albertsons have donated about 600 turkeys, and families have been using coupons for free turkeys to add to the Brigade’s supply, he said.

Winco in Silverdale donated dozens of bags of rice, and a local church has collected hundreds of boxes of macaroni and cheese from its members. The Olalla Valley Winery staged a month-long fundraiser to raise money for the effort.

What’s for dinner

In addition to a turkey and an aluminum foil roasting pan, each basket also includes fresh potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing mix, macaroni and cheese, and a variety of fruits and vegetables and something for dessert.

And tucked into every basket is a little card with this message: “This basket comes to you from someone who cares about you. All we ask is that you take care of yourself well enough to do this for someone else someday.”

Tags attached to turkeys being distributed through the Basket Brigade. Vince Dice

The last two years, because of COVID restrictions, the Brigade gave gift cards instead of food items.

But this year the program is back in person. About 470 volunteers will gather Tuesday and Wednesday (Nov. 22 and 23) at the Latitude 47 Business Center on Bujacich Road to pack the boxes and deliver them.

Volunteers

Many volunteers return year after year, Cathers said. In fact, some of the kids who first volunteered with their parents are now bringing their own children.

Volunteers sort Thanksgiving food while preparing meals for the Basket Brigade on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. Vince Dice

A longtime friend of Cathers makes the trek from Oklahoma to help. Other volunteers are people who were past recipients of boxes and are “paying back the kindness they received,” Cathers said.

Military families also volunteer, helping to pack boxes and deliver to families on the other side of the Narrows bridges.

“We go everywhere from Lakewood to Federal Way, Tacoma, Puyallup, Graham, Port Orchard, Olalla, Silverdale, Key Peninsula – anywhere there’s a family who needs a Thanksgiving dinner,” Cathers said.

The Brigade is still adding to their list of families that need dinners. If you or someone you know could use the gift of a Thanksgiving dinner, email Cathers at [email protected]

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Gig Harbor Now is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, funded by donations from readers like you. Through December 31st, all donations up to $1,000 will be matched by NewsMatch. Please consider donating today!

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Sign up here to contribute food or money or to volunteer to pack or deliver baskets.

A decorated box of Thanksgiving dinner fixings ready for distribution at the Basket Brigade on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. Vince Dice