When a shopper at Walmart wanted to know what 350 laundry baskets were for, Robin Greenblatt realized how unique the Basket Brigade truly is.
For 17 years, Los Cerros Middle School has provided Thanksgiving dinners to families who are less fortunate through a community service project dubbed the Basket Brigade.
"It gives these families hope and makes them feel like somebody cares," the event coordinator said.
After school on Nov. 17, an assembly line of volunteer students, much greater than a brigade, wrapped around the multi-purpose room gathering the items needed to fill the baskets. Forty-five minutes later, 350 Thanksgiving dinner baskets covered the entire floor.
"What I like best about it is the student participation," said Principal Phyllis Roach, who said she thinks the Basket Brigade is the best event the school does all year.
Each basket contained cans of vegetables, gravy and chicken broth, stuffing and corn bread mix, cranberry sauce, cocoa and tea bags, fresh produce and a $10 Safeway gift card to purchase a turkey. A loaf of pumpkin bread and a Thanksgiving card made by the cooking and art students was also included in every basket.
"This project takes many helping hands to make it happen and truthfully that is part of the beauty of the project," Greenblatt said, "all the wonderful hands that touch it."
This year, the project began in August during registration where staff, students and parents had the opportunity to donate to the cause. A canned food drive was held two weeks prior to the basket assembly and fresh produce was generously donated by The Produce Exchange the day before baskets were assembled.
The day following the basket assembly, 38 drivers including Greenblatt filled their cars and dispersed the baskets among nine different organizations in Livermore, Martinez and Concord.
"I would be really thankful if I knew people were thinking of me," said eighth grader and third year veteran of the brigade, Tressa Schroth.
When it comes time to cut the turkey on Thanksgiving Day, Greenblatt knows she will smile thinking about the 350 families fed thanks to the Basket Brigade.
Although this is Greenblatt's third and final year as coordinator, she said that as long as Basket Brigade is continuing, she will always make pumpkin bread and donate.