Close friends Pam Hartley and Michelle Scarafile began The Charleston Basket Brigade in 2008 with a commitment to bring the community together to provide Thanksgiving meals for families in need in Charleston, SC. “When we found out that there were children going to bed hungry right here in Charleston, we knew we had to do something about it,” said Hartley.
The Basket Brigade concept was inspired by Anthony Robbins, whose foundation feeds more than two million each year. “The first year, we fed 75 families. The second year, we raised over $12,900 to feed 430 families. All in all, the Charleston Basket Brigade has raised a total of $63,990 and fed more than 12,000 local residents in need over the past three years.” Scarafile said.
Hartley added, “This year, we’ve set the bar even higher with a goal to to feed 2500 families (an estimated 15,000 people) on Thanksgiving Day and to do that, we’re going to have to raise $75,000.”
Hartley and Scarafile met in 2006 during a leadership seminar held by Robbins and became fast friends. In 2008, Scarafile brought the idea to create a basket brigade to Hartley and they both quickly got into action. “I knew that Pam and I could really make a difference here in Charleston. When the recession hit, we knew that so many were impacted here locally,” Scarafile said.
This fundraiser would not be possible without the commitment of Carolina One Real Estate, Communities In Schools, Piggy Wiggly, Momentum Marketing and many caring friends, families and community members. “It only takes $30 to feed a family of 4-6 at Thanksgiving and we get donations from many sources, including friends and family members that live out of state,” Scarafile said, “$30 goes a long way.”
The $30 meal includes a 10-12 lb. turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, corn, green beans, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, cranberry sauce, a pumpkin pie, fresh rolls and butter. Each family receives an anonymous letter inside the basket that only states “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.”
Carolina One staffers, agents and event volunteers raise money, assemble the meals at preset staging areas and deliver meals to the families. Communities In Schools, a non-profit organization with 27 counselors in 18 schools throughout Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley County, locates the families that will receive donations based on need and maps out directions for delivery. Piggly Wiggly provides discounts on food, boxes, and coordinates delivery of the food to staging areas throughout the Charleston area. Momentum Marketing provides public relations and event coordination assistance.
The response from families that receive a basket from the group are overwhelmingly appreciative and oftentimes tear-filled. One parent said emphatically, “Oh thank you, thank you so much, prayers really do get answered.”