This is a Story From My Childhood… one of many but one I can recall very strongly!
As long as I can remember I have always had a desire to help others. The importance of helping others was instilled in me through my parents and my grandmother. Growing up in a small village outside of Syracuse, NY we experienced some financial hardships. My Mom stayed home to take care of me and my 3 siblings while my Dad worked as much as he could to cover the ever growing bills and keep food on the table. Keeping a job those days was tough as businesses in Syracuse kept closing down and moving out of the state. When the holidays came around things would get even more stressful and tough. My Dad would work even more hours to make extra money because the most important thing to him and my Mom was that us kids had a good Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I remember one particular year when we had no money and very little food. We weren’t going to starve or anything but let’s just say there wasn’t much of a choice about what we were going to eat each day. I could over hear my Mom and Dad arguing about money and heard my Mom talk about how we may not have a Thanksgiving or Christmas that year with tears rolling down her face. There weren’t many extra jobs out there that my Dad could find and he had also been laid off from his full time job right before the holidays. As my mom cried over the weeks leading up, I would tell her that it was ok and that we didn’t need anything for Christmas or a big Thanksgiving dinner. I was probably around 11 or 12 years old at the time and didn’t want to cry and show my Mom I was upset even though deep down in the pit of my stomach feeling this awful pain of sadness, helplessness and worry. I would lay in bed every night while my mind would race praying for something to get better, asking God to please let us have a Thanksgiving and Christmas. I remember pleading to God not to worry about me getting any presents that year as long as my sister and 2 little brothers got to have a good Christmas. I would cry with my face buried in my pillow as quiet as I could because I didn’t want my Mom or Dad to hear me and worry any more than they already had to.
A week before Thanksgiving, a local church caught wind of our situation and they collected donations of food, put it all in a large cardboard box and dropped it off on our front porch. Talk about being thankful! It was very exciting to receive all the great stuff… Not only enough food to help us out for Thanksgiving but even more that helped us out on the day to day meals too! For years to come we would always look forward to that box of donated food and it became a large part of our Thanksgiving tradition as it made our Thanksgiving meals possible!
As I got older and was able to stand on my own feet financially I came across the Anthony Robbins Foundation and their Basket Brigade. After watching a video of Tony Robbins on Youtube telling his experience with a charity food drive as a kid, I instantly connected with his story and wanted to join the brigade to help give back what was given to me and my family all those years ago. We all experience hard times in one fashion or another. Just one basket could change not only the holiday experience for an entire family… it can shape the lives of those effected, both the receivers of the gifts as well as the gift givers. Nothing makes you feel more grateful than giving hope and happiness to a family in a time when it feels like hope is all you have left to hang on to. Not knowing where your next meal is coming from is one of the most difficult things to experience… pulling together a Thanksgiving meal in that situation is next to impossible. Think of how great it will feel sitting down with your family at your Thanksgiving meal knowing that another family is doing the same thing at that same time because of the generosity that you displayed… because you took the time to simply care.
With Sincere Gratitude,
I WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE YOUR HELP GIVING BACK!