Some 350 area residents will received Thanksgiving dinner once again through the Basket Brigade, a group of altruistic parents and students from Los Cerros Middle School.
For the 18th year, the group offered laundry baskets filled with everything needed for a happy Thanksgiving, right down to turkey. While a bird isn't actually included, families who receive a basket will get a $10 Safeway card to help them buy a turkey.
"Students and parents have baked pumpkin bread, families have donated groceries and gift cards and many vendors in our community have donated to our cause," said Julie Kilty, a Basket Brigade volunteer. "Safeway's generosity has been instrumental in this project."
Each basket contains cans of vegetables, gravy and chicken broth, stuffing and corn bread mix, cranberry sauce, cocoa and tea bags, fresh produce and the gift card. A Thanksgiving card made by cooking and art students was also included in every basket.
"The entire gym is filled with laundry baskets going to be distributed to families," Kilty said.
It's not an overnight project. Work began during registration, when parents were asked to contribute.
"I think we collected about $5,000," Kilty said. "They're always very generous during registration."
Other parents send their kids to school "with four or five gift cards," she added.
A canned food drive provided much of what's being given away.
"Parents dropped off food, home ec baked pumpkin bread," Kilty said. "Every day of the week people were bringing in food for the food drive -- it's just a collaborative thing."
The work began in earnest Wednesday night, when parents bagged the fresh produce to be given out, courtesy of The Produce Exchange. Early Friday morning, tables were set up to build the baskets.
On Thursday afternoon, "the kids came in and it was like an assembly line," Kilty said. "There's going to be like 40 drivers going to all these different locations."
The baskets were distributed to organizations in Martinez, Concord and Livermore Thursday afternoon.