Basket Brigade Exceeds Expectations

By Bryan Harrison - posted November 20, 2017
Photos by Vinodh P Sadhanandhan

Mountain House, CA - The Holiday Season, for so many, represents a time not only to celebrate light and love, but to give back, and to help others within their sphere of influence and ability. Making the world around us a bit kinder, if even only this time of year, many believe, could potentially be contagious and catch-on as a way of life.

For years, now, the Thanksgiving Basket Brigade has endeavored to do just that; create some joy for families who haven’t likely had much for awhile. The mission of the Brigade is to compile and then deliver custom baskets filled with everything needed for a Thanksgiving feast.
The Rotary club of Mountain House, in conjunction with the MHHS Interact Club, produced the third annual Mountain House Thanksgiving Basket Brigade; the second consecutive event by the upstart Rotary Club and Interact. Held Saturday, November 18, 2017, at the Altamont School Multi-Purpose Room, the event was the culmination of weeks of preparation, promotion, and a lot of effort by numerous people, from both within Rotary and Interact, and the community.
Picking up the ball and running with it again this year was Rotary founding member, Christina Oh, who set a high standard for organization last year, as Rotary endeavored to pick up with a modest community effort had left off the year before.
Initial help in setting up the online “sign-up genius” came from Katherine Havener, who ran the Basket Brigade for years in Livermore with her husband, Reese Ramos.
The day of the event, Sainthavi Vinodh served to direct more than 100 community members in putting their custom baskets together, assembly-line style. The community came together as has been the case in past years and ultimately made a total of 60 baskets, exceeding all expectations.
“When we first discussed our approach for this year we had some creative ideas, dreaming initially that we might actually be able to come close to doubling the total of 57 baskets done last year, and reach 100,” Ms. Oh said. “However, those plans got derailed as focus from within the group went to assisting victims from the recent disasters (N. Bay Fires, hurricanes and earthquakes). In fact, at one point, Basket Brigade came close to not happening at all this year.
“As we regrouped our efforts,” Christina continued, “we felt we would still be able to pull together people and resources to make at least 35-50 baskets, with a distant hope that we might match the 57 baskets we were able to do last year. “To have surpassed that and reached 60 speaks to the incredible community we have here,” she said.

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Assistance in compiling lists of families in need came from several local charitable organizations. Tracy Interfaith Ministries provided a majority of family recipients. McHenry House Tracy Family Shelter, Chest of Hope, Steps of Tracy, and Haven of Peace, in French Camp, also provided recipients. And, there were also a few families in Mountain House going through some tough times that the Brigade was able to help out.
The outpouring of support from the people of Mountain House was tremendous. For this writer, personally, I can say that, as the 2017-’18 President of the Rotary Club of Mountain House, I am completely grateful and so proud of all our friends and neighbors who helped make this happen. The response from so many of the recipients validates the rich value this project provides, on so many levels.
After the baskets were made, numerous volunteer drivers delivered them directly to the homes of the designated recipients.
“All delivered,” reported Monica Collins. She and husband, Bob, delivered several baskets.
“One of the families was so grateful,” Monica said. “The parents did not speak much English but the smiles & ‘thank yous’ were very heartfelt. It was the 2 kids’ reaction that touched us,” she went on to explain. “The teenage girl was so genuinely surprised at all that was in the basket. She shyly gave me such a hearty hug, as she kept thanking us. The younger boy’s big smile and ‘WOW!’ said it all. As we left they thanked us again & wished us a wonderful Thanksgiving! Now that’s what Thanksgiving is all about!”
Click for a complete photo gallery of the Basket Brigade event.


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