A few years ago I had the privilege of attending a Basket Brigade, ann event where food is delivered to families in need the day before Thanksgiving. This event has been inspired by Tony Robbins and is now held all over the world feeding millions of people. I heard his story and couldn’t think of a better way to give thanks during the holidays than to give back to those in need.
I attended the Toronto Power Groups’ Basket Brigade and it changed not only my life but my daughter’s life too.
I arrived at the community centre with my daughter the morning of the event in awe of the fact that it was blocks away from where I lived when I was 6 years old, and one of the most poverty stricken areas of Toronto. I had not been back to this area in years and ironically, the grocery store where we had purchased the food for our donations was a place I had stolen food from as a child. As we packed the baskets with turkeys, pies, and the fixings, I recalled how little we had when I was a kid. I remembered how my mother worked hard to make our lives better, and I imagined that if we’d received a basket like this for Thanksgiving, it would have felt like a miracle.
This was my chance to give that miracle to another.
Once the baskets where packed, we headed out to deliver them. As I pulled into the driveway of the address on our sheet, I started bawling my eyes out. The house was tiny and falling apart. 4 families lived inside. There were piles of garbage, bars on the windows, and lots of noise from the traffic speeding by. I couldn’t stop crying. I felt such pain for them, knowing how hard life can be when you don’t have a safe place to sleep or food to eat. I finally realized how hard it must have been for my mom to raise me in that kind of environment, as a single mom,and eventually move us to one of the wealthiest parts of Ontario. I cried because I felt grateful for all I have, for being able to raise my daughter in a safe place, to give her all she desires. My daughter just sat there staring at me, confused, until she asked, “Why are you crying?”
I couldn’t answer that question, but as we brought a basket of food to the door, to the families inside, my daughter’s face changed. She was shocked 4 families lived in this little house. The lady who answered barely spoke english, and her son was disabled. My daughter was bored and uninterested. She asked to go play on her ipad in the car. With clenched teeth I hissed, “No!!” I couldn’t believe she had no idea what it must be like for these families, no idea why people would live in such conditions, and no appreciation for all she has. I was mortified as a mother. How had I gone so many years without teaching her to be grateful for what she has?
I listened to the lady’s story, and met some of the other families in the home as well. I saw how grateful they where to have so much food, and at a special time. It felt good to know I’d made people smile and feel cared for, especially in their time of need.
On our way home, an incredible thing happened. Through tears I explained my childhood to my daughter, how my mother struggled to make ends meet. How choices and circumstances can lead to poverty, and how hard work and dedication can improve a life. We talked about my daughter’s life and how she can make choices, to create her life any way she wants. I knew this was a big concept for a 7 year-old to grasp. But – I also saw the amazing opportunity to teach her and she listened attentively.
I know this because month’s later, at a New Year’s Resolution event put on by Toronto Power Group (yes I bring my daughter to stuff like this lol),, my daughter and I sat down to write our goals and fears and to my amazement her fear was poverty. I was surprised to learn the Basket Brigade had such an impact on her. She said, “I don’t want to ever live like that Mommy. I’m going to work hard and make sure we always have food and a safe place to live.” She went on to talk about how much she has and how good it feels to give to someone. At 7 years-old, a few hours at an event months before had changed her life forever.
The Basket Brigade taught my daughter not only about working hard, but appreciation for what she has, and the value of contribution, and I can’t think of many other ways to teach kids about these fundamental values and incredibly important lessons. This is why I’ve decided to help lead the Basket Brigade this year.
The event will be held on Oct. 8th 2016.
There are a few ways you can get involved. You can make a donation, you can help us put baskets together, and / or you can help deliver food to families in need. t, It only costs $50 to feed a family of 4 with our help from a local Food Basics store. Last year we fed 80 families and I’m hoping we feed 100 this year! That means we have to raise $5,000 in 15 days! Please help me give Thanksgiving dinner to 100 families (or 400 people), and experience the true meaning of Thanksgiving: being thankful.
What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving then to give to those in need as an expression of how thankful you are for what you have?
Teaching girls about the values of life also includes giving back.
Each year we get involved in giving back. And I’m passionate about involving our youth in the experience. Twice a year we get our young girls involved in the joy of contribution and the experience of feeling how great it is to make an difference in someones life. On the PA Day before Easter, and the PA day before Thanksgiving, we hold an event to give back. At Thanksgiving we hold our annual basket brigade. This event is a spin off of Tony Robbin’s Basket Brigade, in which he feeds hundreds of thousands of people all over the world through the delivery of food to those in need.
If you’d like to get involved with your family this Thanksgiving, please contact me for details. Families can donate, raise money, package food, and even deliver them to families in need.
To attend or donate to our Basket Brigade email Gina@serenityvalley.ca