Gateway

Food baskets bring the makings of a Thanksgiving families deserve

David Cathers has been with the Gig Harbor Basket Brigade since it began 25 years ago.
David Cathers has been with the Gig Harbor Basket Brigade since it began 25 years ago. jbessex@gateline.com

For 25 years, baskets of food have been left on the doorsteps of thousands of Gig Harbor families homes on the day before Thanksgiving.

“This basket comes to you from someone who cares about you,” reads the note that comes with the gift. “All we ask is that you take care of yourself well enough to do this for someone else today.”

What started in 1993 as eight men delivering 12 baskets has blossomed into a citywide organization — the Gig Harbor Basket Brigade — that last year created 1,580 baskets delivered by about 450 volunteers to 7,000 citizens.

The idea is to get the baskets anonymously to families that are struggling. Volunteers leave the offering on the doorstep, ring the bell and leave.

Sometimes families are too quick for them.

“The deliveries I’ve had where I’ve got caught and I see their smiles, it keeps me going,” said David Cathers, who has been with the Basket Brigade since it began.

This year baskets will be filled and delivered Nov. 20 and Nov. 21. They will have a turkey, boxed goods and canned food, all donated by the community. Families with infants will also get baby food.

The baskets are assembled by elementary school students, children from the Boys and Girls Club, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, as well as many adults, Cathers said.

Families receive baskets based on recommendations from people in the community who know someone who’s struggling. The goal is to give them the Thanksgiving they deserve, Cathers said.

He held back tears describing how the Basket Brigade has grown and the effects it’s had on the community.

One story stuck out to Cathers. Two years ago, he said, a family that included two girls about 8 years old volunteered with the group. The family delivered its first basket of the day and an older couple opened the door.

“[The man] was excited but surprised,” Cathers recalled. “He was saying, ‘Gosh, this is great! What did I do to deserve this?’

“One of the kids said, ‘Because you were born.’

“The kid got it.”

TO PARTICIPATE

For more information, go to http://www.gigharborbasketbrigade.com/participate/

To donate, go to http://www.gigharborbasketbrigade.com/donate/ or mail contributions to 5500 Olympic Drive, Suite H105, PMB 217, Gig Harbor, WA 98335.

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