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Basket Brigade helps families in need

Posted on Sunday, November 26, 2017 at 6:00 am

By Rachel Christian
Staff Writer
Volunteers hand delivered goodwill last weekend as hundreds of food baskets found their way to families in need all across Osceola County.
Organizers refer to themselves as members of the Basket Brigade, a community

News-Gazette Photo/Martin Maddock
Volunteers drop off food baskets in the parking lot of La Rosa Realty in Celebration.

effort to assemble and deliver laundry baskets full of food to people the week before Thanksgiving.
The reward for most volunteers is the look on a person’s face when they open the door.
“It is a wonderful feeling,” said Laverne Grajales, a volunteer and director of recruiting at La Rosa Realty. “A lot of the time, people are kind of in shock. They’re at a loss for words sometimes, but they’re very appreciative.”
Grajales helped deliver the 1,425 baskets to Osceola County families last Saturday. Her company, La Rosa Realty in Celebration, encouraged all its agents to craft baskets that included such holiday staples as green beans, mashed potatoes and a gift card for a turkey. Office locations across the state participated, and each individual could customize both the basket as well as its contents.
“It’s a unique experience,” Grajales said. “You get to play a direct role in what the family receives.”
La Rosa Realty became involved with the project through Housing 4 All, a nonprofit that moves transitional families into permanent housing. The Osceola County School District also participated in the Basket Brigade this year, with a contribution of 300 baskets.
The School District provided assistance in another major way. A list of students enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program was given to organizers to ensure that baskets were being delivered to those who truly needed them. Volunteers were given the addresses of the students, but not the names.
The Basket Brigade effort began three years ago, and Grajales said she would like to see it grow more next year. She said it’s realistic since the group exceeded this year’s goal by more than 400 baskets.
When volunteers drop off the items, they are told not to reveal where the basket came from.
“People thank us and want to know how they can repay us,” Grajales said. “We tell them not to worry about it. We tell them just to pay it forward.”