Close friends Michelle Scarafile and Pam Hartley 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. “It’s hard to believe it’s been 12 years already,” said Michelle Scarafile, co-founder.
“I remember when we started,” Pam said. “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.”
Michelle and Pam met in 2006 during a leadership seminar held by Anthony Robbins and became fast friends. In 2008, Michelle brought the idea to Pam to create a Basket Brigade and they both quickly got into action. “I knew that with Pam’s help and marketing genius, we could really make a difference here in Charleston. When the recession hit, we knew that there were so many families…so many kids that were impacted locally”.
The Basket Brigade concept was inspired by Anthony Robbins, whose foundation feeds millions of people through various food banks and charities each year. In the first year, the duo fed 75 families. In 2009, they recruited more volunteers and the effort raised over $12,900 to feed 430 families. In 2010, the effort more than tripled raising $48,840 and feeding 1628 families that Thanksgiving. In 2011, $75,000 was raised and 2,506 families were fed, exceeding the non-profit’s goal all while being delivered in the rain!
Since 2012, the organization has continuously raised over $100,000 every Thanksgiving. Over the past twelve years, the brigade has raised more than $850,000 and served almost 29,000 families in need with the help of thousands of Charleston volunteers and donors. Our 2020 intent is to AT LEAST match 2019 and we are once again on a mission to feed about 21,000 people this Thanksgiving.
Our goal for 2020 is to feed 3,500 families.
“There is a great need for those in our community, and that is why we are dedicated to feeding at least 3,500 families again this year,” said Hartley. “And with the assistance of so many incredible organizations and community members, we know we can make it happen.”
100% of funds raised are utilized to buy food. Each family receives a box with all of the ingredients to cook an entire Thanksgiving meal including a 10-12 lb. turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, fresh rolls, and a pumpkin pie. Also inside the box is an anonymous letter that reads, “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.”
Each meal is assembled and anonymously hand-delivered by CBB volunteers on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
This fundraising effort would not be possible without the commitment of Piggly Wiggly, Carolina One Real Estate, Communities In Schools, Momentum Marketing, the City of North Charleston and many local businesses, organizations, caring friends, families and community members.
The Charleston Area Convention Center donates a 20,000 square foot space to serve as the central staging area for meal assembly and meal delivery.
Piggly Wiggly is our local grocery store champion that manages the massive food order, delivers all of the food to the Convention Center, and provides us with a sizable donation!
Hundreds of local volunteers in the community, along with Carolina One staffers, raise money year round, assemble the meals and then deliver meals to the families.
Communities In Schools, a non-profit organization that serves over 12,000 students in Charleston and Berkeley counties, is an integral part of our effort. They locate majority of the families that will receive meal donations and they are also invaluable when it comes to mapping directions for delivery.
Momentum Marketing leads the event coordination, community outreach, public relations and social media.
At the heart of the Charleston Basket Brigade we are a mission to not only provide these families with food, but with a joyous holiday experience that they would otherwise not have. Families are able to cook the meal together, and sit around the dinner table and share in this special Thanksgiving experience.
The responses 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.”