The City Magazine Since 1975

Pam Hartley & Michelle Scarafile, Community Catalyst

Pam Hartley & Michelle Scarafile, Community Catalyst
November 2012

How many people do you usually share Thanksgiving with? Six? Eight? Twelve? Well, this year, Charleston Basket Brigade (CBB) founders Pam Hartley and Michelle Scarafile plan to celebrate with more than 20,000 grateful guests—and you’re invited.  

Since teaming up in 2008, CBB’s energetic leaders have helped serve up fixings for delicious Thanksgiving dinners to thousands of local families in need, but the two aren’t the only cooks in the kitchen. The organization relies on a host of enterprising locals to raise money through collections, bake sales, contests, parties, and the like. “Michelle and I have done nothing but create a platform for people to contribute to others,” explains Hartley.

And the community has certainly gotten its turkeys in a row when it comes to CBB campaigning, dishing out large-scale pushes such as Piggly Wiggly’s Facebook “Like” event (which raised $3,898) and The Lowcountry Business Network/Armada Real Estate-hosted Golfun’ for a Great Cause charity tournament ($5,000), as well as homegrown efforts like one family’s neighborhood sweet sale ($100) and a 10-year-old’s door-to-door donation drive ($1,300). And since the nonprofit puts every cent collected towards the purchase of food, even residents who anonymously drop a penny into CBB’s Change for Change boxes at area retail and grocery stores become part of the effort.

After gobbling up thousands of dollars in the five weeks before Thanksgiving, the group sets out to set tables for hungry families across the Tricounty and beyond, partnering with Communities in Schools to identify the appropriate recipients. One $30 contribution supplies turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, buttered rolls, and pumpkin pie for six. That meal is then boxed up and delivered two days before the holiday by hundreds of volunteer hands. The face-to-face connection made as each meal passes into the arms of a recipient reaffirms the meaning of this day of gratitude for all involved. And in the afternoon, when everyone bows their heads around thankful family tables, a sense of community spirit and blessing fills each. By these hands, we all are fed.

Give Thanks

By Day: Michelle Scarafile, owner of social media marketing firm Create Your Best Self; Pam Hartley, founder of public relations company Momentum Marketing

The Big Dish: According to Piggly Wiggly manager Derek Pace, CBB places the largest single food order all year that takes as many as seven semitrucks to deliver.

Reaching Out: 500-plus volunteers help pack meals and drive those boxes to homes as far as Ridgeville and Bonneau.

A Double Helping: From 2008 to 2011, CBB fed 27,000 people. This year alone, organizers hope to raise $100,000 and feed some 20,000 people.