Posted: October 27, 2017
If you live in the Chico, area you might have heard of a great community service project called, Azad’s Thanksgiving Basket Brigade. This program was created by Grandmaster Farshad Azad, the owner of Azad’s Martial Arts Center in Chico, California. This year, Azad’s is celebrating the 26th anniversary of this community-wide event in Chico. Each fall, Azad leads his students and the community in providing a complete Thanksgiving dinner basket for over 250 deserving families. This project began with one meal for one family and soon grew to help 200-250 families, annually. The program has reached over 35,000 people over the last quarter of a century!
When he was a student at Chico State, Azad overheard a conversation between a parent and her kids about why they could not have a traditional Thanksgiving meal that year. The children were a little upset and confused why they were not going to have a traditional meal. The mother had lost her job and explained to the kids that they were down to their last pennies. This touched Azad’s heart, and that is when he decided to provide a meal for a deserving family the first chance he had. A few years later, when he had opened up his successful martial arts business, he provided a single family with a great Thanksgiving dinner. This further impacted him and reinforced his thoughts to reach out to more families in the coming years.
The mission of the Basket Brigade is to unite the community in helping average families who are experiencing very difficult financial challenges with a gift from the community. Azad and his team of community supporters will provide the families with a complete Thanksgiving dinner on the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving day. Each meal is designed for a family of up to eight people, and includes; a turkey, bread, baked goods, vegetables, gravy, pie, olives, pumpkin pie, rolls, a roasting pan, and all other items needed to make a fantastic and memorable Thanksgiving dinner.
Many of the recipients have lost their employment, or have been faced with enormous health issues and hospital bills. Each year, hundreds of people in the community gather around Thanksgiving Basket Brigade and extend a helping hand to those in need. Many of those who contribute their time, money, and energy are the previous recipients of the baskets. “We want to send a clear message to our local families in need that this community cares for them, and will not forget them during difficult times. We extend Thanksgiving meals to families as our way of saying we sympathize with their predicament. Our message is, let’s be hopeful and take positive action so that next year, not only will you not need this basket, but you may join us in helping others in need!” says Azad.
What qualifies a family for a gift basket from Azad’s Thanksgiving Basket Brigade?
- They must live in the Chico area.
- They must be financially deserving.
- They must be a first-time recipient. A family may not receive a basket more than once.
- They must have school age children.
This year, on November 21st, Azad’s Martial Arts Center will morph into a massive operational headquarters for the Thanksgiving Basket Brigade volunteers to organize, assemble dinner baskets, wrap them as a gift, and drive and deliver them to the recipients.
After the deliveries are finished, Azad’s Martial Arts Center throws a massive party for the volunteers and all those who take part in the event. Volunteers will get together, eat a home-made Thanksgiving meal and celebrate the results of their hard work in making the community a better place. There will be a ton of fun, including live music from the Blue Hippies, a favorite local band in Chico.
There are many ways for you and your family to get involved with the Basket Brigade this year. Here is how you can get involved:
Make cash donations so that dinners can be purchased for more families. It takes only $40 to provide a complete basket of Thanksgiving dinner for a family of 8. Much of the success of this project depends on your cash donations toward the purchase of these basket dinners. You may even sponsor a family in need, with whom you are familiar. You may identify a deserving family and put Azad’s Martial Arts Center in touch with them to get on this year’s list. Make sure they meet the qualifications stated earlier. You may volunteer your time during the event, helping to organize the food products, or putting the gift baskets together on Tuesday, November 21st, 2017, starting at 5pm at Azad’s Martial Arts Center, located at 313 Walnut Street, Suite 150 in Chico. You may sign up ahead of time to be a driver to deliver a few dinners to local families on November 21st. You may even deliver a basket of dinner to a family you have already put us in touch with or that you have sponsored. You may sign up ahead of time to assist during the volunteer dinner festivities, and much more.
“I think Thanksgiving can be about a lot more than just eating Turkey and stuffing. This is a great opportunity to teach children the value of peaceful coexistence, caring for others regardless of our differences, empathy and compassion, mindfulness, acknowledging that we all have an impact in our society, and that each one of us can make this a better world. This is a great time to be grateful for all that we have been blessed with: our health, our strengths, and all that is good about this world. This is a time to not forget those less fortunate than us and pay homage to all those who have been source of positive change in our lives. To me, this is the deeper message of Thanksgiving, as we gather around our loved ones or new friends to have a delicious meal! It makes my heart smile when I see a five-year-old child bring her pennies to my school because she wants to reach out and help a family. Together, we can make a positive difference!” Says Grandmaster Azad.
2017 Thanksgiving Basket Brigade is also sponsored by hundreds of local community minded individuals, Chico Noon Exchange Club, and the Blue Hippies.
Please join Grandmaster Azad in helping to make this year’s Thanksgiving Basket Brigade another incredibly successful event, and making our community a better place for everyone. For more information, please contact Grandmaster at Grandmaster@azadsmartialarts.com . You may call Azad’s Martial Arts Center at 892-AZAD (2923) and/or 896-0777.
Platinum Sponsor: $1000-$2000
Platinum Sponsors will be included in all media announcements, promotions, social media, posters, fliers, night of the event posters, thank you at the volunteer dinner, and the sponsor’s name will be mentioned in a letter accompanied with each gift basket delivered to recipients.
Gold Sponsor: $750-$999
Gold Sponsors will be included in social media, posters, fliers, night of the event posters, thank you at the volunteer dinner, and the sponsor’s name will be mentioned in a letter accompanied with each gift basket delivered to recipients.
Silver Sponsor: $500-$749
Silver Sponsors will be included in social media, fliers, night of the event posters, thank you at the volunteer dinner, and the sponsor’s name will be mentioned in a letter accompanied with each gift basket delivered to recipients.
Bronze Sponsor: $250-499
Bronze Sponsors will be included in night of the event posters, thank you at the volunteer dinner, and the sponsor’s name will be mentioned in a letter accompanied with each gift basket delivered to recipients.
CLICK HERE to view original Growing Up Chico Magazine article!