More than 100 volunteers showed up at Azad's Martial Arts Center tonight to give back to those less fortunate in our community. "It has become a tradition in Chico," said Grandmaster Azad. The Thanksgiving Basket Brigade is an annual event that has been going on for 22 years and it all began with a single meal. "We started with one dinner to help one family and before you know it, it grew to 100 and 200 and 250 dinners every year," said Azad.
Children lined up to start the course where they hopped across and carried items on their head. It was all to put together a complete Thanksgiving dinner. "We're providing them with a complete basket of dinner for Thanksgiving which includes turkey, mashed potatoes, (and) stuffing. Everything that makes your mouth water," explained Azad.
Some volunteers have been involved with the brigade for years, including Ashlynn Salyer, who says people from all across the community come to help. "I'm looking around here... and probably only about half the people are actually from Azad's. It's a very good thing for the little kids to be learning, especially because they can grow up and help the community just as much,” said Salyer. Azad went on to say "the word samurai means the one who serves. In that spirit, we want to go ahead and teach the kids that it is so much more important to be compassionate and mindful of other people’s situations."
One family that received a basket last year is paying it forward this year and that's what the Thanksgiving Basket Brigade is all about. "In the previous year they had a hard time and they really couldn't afford even dinner for themselves but in the next year, which is the whole idea of Thanksgiving Basket Brigade, they got their finances together and their lives together and they came in and actually helped us and this is what we need,” said Azad.
Over the past 22 years, over 30,000 people have been fed through the brigade. If you'd like to help, you can call 892-AZAD(2923) or go to www.azadsmartialarts.com.