More than 500 volunteers gathered last week to pack and deliver 3,350 boxes of grocery items, each including a 12-pound frozen turkey, canned corn, green beans, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, a bag of marshmallows, boxed stuffing and potatoes, gravy mix, a frozen pumpkin pie, fresh rolls and butter.
It was all part of the 5th Annual Charleston Basket Brigade at the Charleston Area Convention Center.
Enclosed in each box was an anonymous letter that read, “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.”
Michelle Scarafile and Pam Hartley, co-founders of the nonprofit, partnered with Carolina One Real Estate, Piggly Wiggly, Communities in Schools and Momentum Marketing to feed an estimated 20,000 people on Thanksgiving Day by raising just under $100,000 through the efforts of hundreds of local volunteers and others.
All of the money raised went for buying food. Each year, the local nonprofit writes Piggly Wiggly the largest check in the company’s history for a single order.
Close friends Hartley and Scarafile began the brigade in 2008 with a commitment to bring the community together to provide Thanksgiving meals for families in need in Charleston.
In total, they’ve raised over $238,000 to feed more than 47,000 local residents.
“With only a few days remaining before our event, we had a ways to go with our fundraising, so Pam and I had to make the decision to move forward in faith that this community would make it happen,” said Scarafile. “We knew 3,350 families were counting on us to deliver meals to their doors, so we just kept picking up the phone, sending emails, reaching out to all our friends and families. Thank you to everyone that said yes!”
“The people who volunteer, donate, assemble and deliver meals are so grateful for the opportunity to serve and the recipients are filled with gratitude, often tears. It’s a beautiful thing,” said Hartley.
Carolina One staffers and agents along with countless community volunteers raise money, assemble the meals at the convention center and deliver meals to the families.
Communities in Schools, a non-profit dropout prevention organization that serves over 10,750 students (92 percent from low-income families) in 23 schools throughout Charleston and Berkeley counties, locates the families that will receive meals based on need and maps out directions for delivery.
Piggly Wiggly provides discounts on food and boxes and delivers it to the staging area for assembly and delivery.
Momentum Marketing provides public relations, marketing, fundraising and event coordination assistance.
This year marked the largest fundraising effort yet for the brigade.
For the second year in a row, the convention center donated 25,000 square feet of space to serve as a staging area for assembly and delivery.