There’s always action at the Azad Martial Arts Center. But only once a year is it as busy as Wednesday night during the 31st annual Basket Brigade, when nearly 200 volunteers came together to assemble 230 Thanksgiving meal baskets for local families.

The operation went like clockwork. High school students stacked baskets for transport and smashed boxes during breaks in the action. Children carried frozen turkeys and pumpkin pies from their wrappers to the long tables that served as an assembly line, saving adults the trouble of searching for areas of need. At the end of the evening, 230 families had festive meals delivered to their doorsteps.

Children were among the busiest helpers when assembling the baskets, carrying stuffing, green beans, potatoes, turkeys and more to those working on the assembly line. (Luke Reid/University Communications)

The coordinator of the site, Traci Ciapponi (physical education, ’93; MA, physical education, ’95), professor in the department of kinesiology, ensured the organization and the smooth running of the action. “What always hits home, especially when we start putting the baskets together, is how many people want to help and how much we can accomplish together in a short time,” Ciapponi said. Now in her ninth year as a volunteer and first as a site coordinator, she is following in the footsteps of Susan Green, chair of the Chico State Department of Multicultural and Gender Studies, who ran the Chico site. for many years and has now moved to co-ordinate at another place. “We created 230 baskets in 40 minutes. When it’s done, they ask, ‘What else can we do?’ »

Volunteers descend a line of folding tables, collecting all the ingredients from the basket along the way.
Volunteers descend a row of folding tables, collecting all the ingredients from the basket along the way. (Luke Reid/University Communications)

Farshad Azad, a lecturer in the kinesiology department and owner of Azad’s, describes the baskets as “a gift from the community.” He earned his master’s degree in public administration from Chico State in 1990, served on the university’s advisory board from 2006 to 2018, and received the Chico State Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 2015. He was not present on Wednesday at the Chico site. Instead, it was heading to other assembly and distribution sites in Paradise, Orland, Thermalito and Colusa. In total, about 850 baskets were assembled and distributed in the North Valley.

This year’s Basket Brigade is now over, but there are still plenty of opportunities to participate before the end of the month.

Chico State Basic Needs Project

Research shows that approximately half of students in Chico State suffer from food insecurity, which is a major barrier to student success. Being a starving student is not a rite of passage. So on Tuesday, November 29, Wildcats across the country will rally to support students with donations to the University’s Basic Needs Project, designed to meet this need, and more. A donation of any size will help continue to provide nutritious food, short-term emergency housing and emergency grants to students in need.

Between now and Giving Tuesday, the staff council is holding a non-perishable food drive with bins in each building, with a friendly competition to see which buildings/campus areas will collect the most produce.

Get more information and/or donate here.

The race for food

The Food Run, held on Thanksgiving morning in Lower Bidwell Park’s One Mile Recreation Area, is one of Chico’s biggest events, drawing around 5,000 people each year. As such, everyone is invited to participate as a volunteer or participant. Race organizers are always on the lookout for people willing to work as course monitors or help with setup and cleanup. Volunteer registration closes Sunday, November 20. Those wishing to participate in the 5K can still register online until Thursday morning before the race begins, or in person at Fleet Feet in downtown Chico on Tuesday and Wednesday, or the morning of the race. at 7 a.m. in the park. The 5K starts at 9 a.m. The funds are donated to support the Jesus Center, which provides transitional housing, job training programs and more to the community.

Volunteer or sign up to run/walk.

6th Street Youth Center

The mission of the 6th Street Center for Youth provides services to young people aged 14 to 24 who are homeless, inadequately housed or runaways. Donations of tents, hand warmers, rain gear, adult clothing and gift cards are appreciated and can be dropped off Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 130 West Sixth Street. A more detailed list is available on their websiteas well as a link to an Amazon wishlist.

Chico State students, faculty and staff played an important role in Wednesday’s Basket Brigade and will do the same in support of the Basic Needs Project, Run for Food and 6th Street Center for Youth in the weeks coming. You are invited to join the party and make a difference.